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drip verb 1. let fall or be so wet as to shed small drops of liquid. "the tap won't stop dripping" synonyms: dribble, drop, leak More antonyms: gush (of liquid) fall in small drops. "water dripped from her clothing" cause or allow (a liquid) to fall in small drops. "the candle was dripping wax down one side" display a copious amount or degree of a particular quality or thing. "the women were dripping with gold and diamonds" noun

I am confused with the definition let fall. Instead of tap, can I use water as a subject for drip such as

The water in the tap won't stop dripping

or

The water in the tap drips

?

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Let fall small drops of liquid is one way to use the verb. If you say "water drips" that meaning is absurd:

Water [lets fall small drops of liquid]. Say what?

However, another given meaning is fall in small drops. That meaning applies when you say "water drips":

Water [falls in small drops]. Just fine.

Now for your sentences, if water falls in small drops, it is unlikely that that is the water in the tap. It is actually water that comes out of the tap that actually drips!

Water drips from the tap.

Without further context, using the could be confusing. However, if you specify the water, the article can be used:

The water dripping from the tap formed a puddle on the floor.

  • I am quite confused by this answer. In your second sentence you say ...'If you say "water drips" that meaning is absurd'. But you later recognise 'Water drips from the tap'. It is perfectly idiomatic to say Water is dripping (from somewhere). That is an intransitive use of the verb drip. The tap is dripping (water) is a transitive use of the same verb. – WS2 Feb 5 '15 at 9:19
  • @WS2: the meaning let fall small drops of liquid is absurd to apply in the sentence water drips, as I illustrate by substitution. I included it because the OP seemed to want to use that meaning. Instead of the two meanings mentioned in the dictionary, you are of course free to read transitive and intransitive use of the verb :) – oerkelens Feb 5 '15 at 9:55
  • @oerkelens Yes. Having looked at the OP a bit more carefully I can see that you were dealing with a confused question. They have quoted only the first (and transitive) meaning from the OED. There are altogether five senses quoted and some sub-categories. Of course water cannot drip within the first transitive meaning! – WS2 Feb 5 '15 at 10:34

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