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verb pre·cip·i·tate \pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt\

: to cause (something) to happen quickly or suddenly

: to become separated from a liquid especially by a chemical process

: to cause (something solid) to become separated from a liquid especially by a chemical process


Full Definition of PRECIPITATE

transitive verb
a :  to throw violently :  hurl <the quandaries into which the release of nuclear energy has precipitated mankind — A. B. Arons>
b :  to throw down
:  to bring about especially abruptly <precipitate a scandal that would end with his expulsion — John Cheever>
a :  to cause to separate from solution or suspension
b :  to cause (vapor) to condense and fall or deposit
intransitive verb
a :  to fall headlong
b :  to fall or come suddenly into some condition
:  to move or act with violent or unwise speed
a :  to separate from solution or suspension
b :  to condense from a vapor and fall as rain or snow
pre·cip·i·ta·tive \-ˌtā-tiv\ adjective
pre·cip·i·ta·tor \-ˌtā-tər\ noun


  1. Her death precipitated a family crisis.
  2. The budget problem was precipitated by many unexpected costs.
  3. minerals that precipitate from seawater
  4. When Achilles is informed by his mother, the sea-goddess Thetis, that vanquishing Hector on the battlefield will precipitate his own demise, he unhesitatingly opts for the gusto. —Mark Leyner, Time, 13 Nov. 2000


Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare, from praecipit-, praeceps (see precipice)
First Known Use: 1528



abbreviate, abominate, accelerate, accentuate, accommodate, acculturate, accumulate, adjudicate, adulterate, affiliate, agglomerate, alienate, alleviate, alliterate, amalgamate, ameliorate, amyl nitrate, annihilate, annunciate, anticipate, apostolate, appreciate, appropriate, approximate, arpeggiate, articulate, asphyxiate, assassinate, asseverate, assimilate, associate, at any rate, attenuate, authenticate, barbiturate, bicarbonate, calumniate, capacitate, capitulate, catholicate, certificate, coagulate, coelenterate, collaborate, commemorate, commiserate, communicate, compassionate, concatenate, conciliate, confabulate, confederate, conglomerate, congratulate, consolidate, contaminate, cooperate, coordinate, corroborate, deactivate, debilitate, decapitate, decelerate, decerebrate, deconcentrate, deconsecrate, decorticate, decrepitate, de-escalate, defibrinate, defoliate, degenerate, deliberate, delineate, demodulate, denominate, depopulate, depreciate, deracinate, deregulate, desegregate, desiderate, detoxicate, devaluate, diaconate, dilapidate, discriminate, disintegrate, disseminate, dissimulate, dissociate, domesticate, effectuate, ejaculate, elaborate, electroplate, eliminate, elucidate, emaciate, emancipate, emasculate, encapsulate, enumerate, enunciate, episcopate, equivocate, eradicate, etiolate, evacuate, evaluate, evaporate, eventuate, eviscerate, exacerbate, exaggerate, exasperate, excited state, excogitate, excoriate, exfoliate, exhilarate, exonerate, expatiate, expatriate, expectorate, expostulate, expropriate, extenuate, exterminate, extrapolate, facilitate, felicitate, fish or cut bait, garrison state, gesticulate, habilitate, habituate, hallucinate, humiliate, hydrogenate, hypothecate, illuminate, impersonate, inactivate, inaugurate, incarcerate, incinerate, incorporate, incriminate, indoctrinate, inebriate, infatuate, infuriate, ingratiate, ingurgitate, initiate, inoculate, inseminate, insinuate, instantiate, intercalate, interpolate, interrelate, interrogate, intimidate, intoxicate, invalidate, investigate, invigorate, irradiate, Italianate, Korea Strait, lanceolate, legitimate, luxuriate, mandarinate, manipulate, matriarchate, matriculate, Merthiolate, necessitate, negotiate, noncandidate, obliterate, officiate, Orange Free State, orientate, originate, oxygenate, participate, particulate, patriarchate, patriciate, perambulate, peregrinate, perpetuate, pontificate, predestinate, predominate, prefabricate, premeditate, preponderate, prevaricate, procrastinate, prognosticate, proliferate, propitiate, proportionate, quadruplicate, quintuplicate, reciprocate, recriminate, recuperate, redecorate, reduplicate, reeducate, refrigerate, regenerate, regurgitate, reincarnate, reintegrate, reiterate, rejuvenate, remunerate, repatriate, repudiate, resuscitate, retaliate, reticulate, revaluate, reverberate, scholasticate, second estate, self-flagellate, self-immolate, self-pollinate, seventy-eight, sextuplicate, Singapore Strait, sophisticate, subordinate, substantiate, syllabicate, tergiversate, transliterate, triangulate, vanity plate, variegate, vaticinate, vituperate, vociferate


noun pre·cip·i·tate \pri-ˈsi-pə-tət, -ˌtāt\

: a solid substance that is separated from a liquid especially by a chemical process

Full Definition of PRECIPITATE

:  a substance separated from a solution or suspension by chemical or physical change usually as an insoluble amorphous or crystalline solid
:  a product, result, or outcome of some process or action


  1. <the exodus from the cities was an unexpected precipitate of the automobile, which effectively shrank distances>
  2. <the chemist filtered out the precipitate from the solution>
  3. Yet trained, and by nature inclined, to persevere through the stenches, messes, explosions and disasters of a laboratory, he fixed his gaze upon an unlikely precipitate: human resilience, a sort of radioactive trace element. —Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review, 16 June 2002


New Latin praecipitatum, from Latin, neuter of praecipitatus (see 1precipitate)
First Known Use: 1594

Other Chemical Engineering Terms

alkali, cation, decant, hygroscopic, isotope, oxidize, slurry, solute, viscous


adjective pre·cip·i·tate \pri-ˈsi-pə-tət\

: happening very quickly or too quickly without enough thought or planning

Full Definition of PRECIPITATE

a :  falling, flowing, or rushing with steep descent
b :  precipitous, steep
:  exhibiting violent or unwise speed
pre·cip·i·tate·ly adverb
pre·cip·i·tate·ness noun


  1. <the army's precipitate withdrawal from the field of battle>
  2. The precipitate decline in support for Aristide has probably less to do with Haiti's political crisis than with the continuous and unrelenting economic battering: the Haitian gourde, which a year ago was trading at 27 to the dollar, by late February was down to 55 to the dollar. —Peter Dailey, New York Review of Books, 27 Mar. 2002


(see 2precipitate)
First Known Use: 1615

Synonym Discussion of PRECIPITATE

precipitate, headlong, abrupt, impetuous, sudden mean showing undue haste or unexpectedness. precipitate stresses lack of due deliberation and implies prematureness of action <the army's precipitate withdrawal>. headlong stresses rashness and lack of forethought <a headlong flight from arrest>. abrupt stresses curtness and a lack of warning or ceremony <an abrupt refusal>. impetuous stresses extreme impatience or impulsiveness <an impetuous lover proposing marriage>. sudden stresses unexpectedness and sharpness or violence of action <flew into a sudden rage>.
PRECIPITATIVE Defined for Kids


verb pre·cip·i·tate \pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt\

Definition of PRECIPITATE for Kids

:  to cause to happen suddenly or unexpectedly <The misunderstanding precipitated a quarrel.>
:  to change from a vapor to a liquid or solid and fall as rain or snow
:  to separate from a solution <The procedure called for precipitating salt from seawater.>


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