From a Russian document:

Лабораторная посуда считается чистой, если вода, стекающая по стенкам, не оставляет капель или «ручейков».


Laboratory glassware is considered clean when the water running down its walls doesn't leave drops or "rivulets".

But I'm not sure about "rivulets". What is meant in the original text are elongated, thread-like drops that would make the laboratory beaker hard to use, because these drops will make measurements imprecise.

I wonder what the natural-sounding English term would be for these.

From a website dedicated to titrations:

Laboratory glassware have to be perfectly clean before it can be used for any type of analytical work. There are two reasons for that. If the glass is not perfectly clean, water will not wet its surface, and it will be present on the glass surface in the form of droplets. It is impossible to account for volume of these droplets, so you will never know what volume of the reagent was used - and as the precision of the volume measurements is the basis of the precision of the volumetric methods, dirty volumetric glass means huge errors.

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5 Answers 5


I think that rivulets is fine. Look at these examples:

Blue drops of rain trickles in rivulets on a black background. — Dreamstime Stock Video

Sun Tuff roofing with rain drops and rivulets — Alamy Stock Photo

Soap suds and rivulets of water on window glass of a red saloon car being washed in an automated car — Alamy Stock Photo

Alternatively, these can be called trails:

Vertical shot of a window with water trails and a blurred background — Stock Editorial Photography

  • 6
    I actually think of rivulets as containing flowing water, not streaks or drops of stationary water clinging to a surface.
    – Jim
    Mar 6, 2021 at 19:39
  • 8
    For what it's worth, "rivulets" was the word I thought of before reading past the title.
    – user888379
    Mar 7, 2021 at 18:28

The word is droplet

There is nothing wrong with using "droplets" as in the website you reference. A rivulet is a thin stream of water that is flowing. A droplet is a small drop that adheres to the surface.

Look at some of these images


I'd call it a streak.

streak [noun]

a long, narrow mark, smear, band of color, or the like:

  • streaks of mud.


  • If your wipers are leaving streaks of water on the windshield ... (Advert on Google]

streak [verb]

to be in streaks.

  • Rain streaked down the window.


  • 2
    In the noun form, many (most?) people would understand "streak" in this context to be dry dirty spots left in the path of water after it evaporated. (Because there was some dirt for the water to spread around, or the water itself was dirty). The votes on comments under the question reflect this. Mar 8, 2021 at 6:33

With a wine glass, it may be called 'legs'

The 'legs' of wine are the droplets that form along the edge of your glass, when you swirl a wine. Some believe that the appearance of them reflects the quality of the wine in the glass.


  • 6
    Students don't waste wine washing out burettes. Mar 6, 2021 at 15:28
  • Huh, I thought for wine it was called "tears": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marangoni_effect#Tears_of_wine. Other terms seem to include: wine legs, fingers, curtains, church windows, or feet. I don't think the thought of feet in my wine glass is very appetizing though...
    – rubenvb
    Mar 8, 2021 at 15:58
  • @rubenvb. May have to keep feet out of it - or visit the vineyard! Now what's that word for walking around to crush the grapes with the feet....?
    – user414952
    Mar 8, 2021 at 20:14

There isn't a single word for a liquid version of a dingleberry.

You need describe the water as being stuck to the glass. Formally, the droplets are adhered to the glass. Adhered works as an adjective - ... the adhered droplets ... Less formally, the droplets cling to the glass.

I prefer adhered in the passive construction because we understand from context that it is the cruddy glass that is more clingy than clean glass, and not that the droplets are more clingy than normal droplets.

  • 1
    Do you mean the third definition of dingleberry?
    – IconDaemon
    Mar 7, 2021 at 2:24
  • 4
    @IconDaemon I'm pretty sure, despite Merriam Webster's best efforts, that that's actually the first definition of dingleberry. Mar 7, 2021 at 16:08
  • ... M-W is a 'historic dictionary' (like OED but not Lexico and many others): it lists polysemes in the order of appearance in the language, not current degree of idiomaticity. Mar 8, 2021 at 14:54

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