I'm looking for a word (doesn't matter how obscure) that describes the turbulence / twisting of one substance in another.

The example I'm trying to describe is colored ink being dropped into — and flowing through — water.

I.e. "The ink [XXX] through the water."

Visually: Source: Shutterstock Source: Shutterstock


3 Answers 3


The ink billowed through the water.

The action is like clouds billowing in the air. The OED definition of 'billowing' does not exclude the billowing of one liquid within another.

  1. fig. and transf. To surge, swell, undulate, roll with wavy motion.


The billowing of clouds is caused by warm air currents rising upwards. The billowing of the liquid in the image is caused by gravity pulling downwards.


The red ink produced a turbulent flow and then diffused quickly through the water.

The red ink "diffused through" the water.

  • diffuse something through something else - to distribute or scatter something through something else.
  • The chemical process diffused the purple color through the liquid.
  • Let us try to diffuse the medication through the bloodstream as rapidly as possible.
  • The dye diffused through the water rapidly.
  • 2
    Thanks for this, however I feel as though that's more of a 'mechanical' description, when I'm after a 'visual' one — e.g. twisting / curling / flowing... Especially at the start, more like the 'convulsive propagation' that occurs in the first few seconds.
    – Sarreph
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 17:07
  • 'Diffuse' sounds more uniform. The OP is after something more random and spasmodic Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 21:28
  • @Centaurus — I wasn't looking for the phenomenon's discoverer... Have now accepted what is most helpful to what I was getting at.
    – Sarreph
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 21:54

Dissipated. The blood from the mangled head of the victim quickly dissipated in the clear waters of the millrace until it disappeared somewhere among the rushes.

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