1

precipitate

verb pre·cip·i·tate \ pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of precipitate

precipitated; precipitating
transitive verb
1 a :to throw violently :hurl
  • the quandaries into which the release of nuclear energy has precipitated mankind
  • —A. B. Arons
b :to throw down
2 :to bring about especially abruptly
  • precipitate a scandal that would end with his expulsion
  • —John Cheever
3 a :to cause to separate from solution or suspension
b :to cause (vapor) to condense and fall or deposit
intransitive verb
1 a :to fall headlong
b :to fall or come suddenly into some condition
2 :to move or act with violent or unwise speed
3 a :to separate from solution or suspension
b :to condense from a vapor and fall as rain or snow

precipitative

play \pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtā-tiv\ adjective

precipitator

play \pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtā-tər\ noun

precipitate was our Word of the Day on 10/28/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of precipitate in a Sentence

  1. 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 LeynerTime13 Nov. 2000
  2. The vast room darkens. The videotape … begins on two identical screens set high above the nave. The soaring lyrics of LeeAnn Rimes's "How Do I Live (Without You)" precipitate a collective tension and welling, repressed tearfulness. —Jayne Anne PhillipsHarper'sNovember 1998
  3. Her death precipitated a family crisis.

  4. The budget problem was precipitated by many unexpected costs.

  5. minerals that precipitate from seawater

Recent Examples of precipitate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precipitate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of precipitate

Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare, from praecipit-, praeceps — see precipice

precipitate Synonyms

Synonyms
pour, rain, storm
Related Words
shower; spit; hail, rainsquall, squall; deluge, drown, engulf, flood, inundate, swamp
Near Antonyms
drizzle, mist, mizzle, spit, sprinkle

2

precipitate

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

Definition of precipitate

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

Examples of precipitate in a Sentence

  1. 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 EderNew York Times Book Review16 June 2002
  2. the exodus from the cities was an unexpected precipitate of the automobile, which effectively shrank distances

  3. the chemist filtered out the precipitate from the solution

Origin and Etymology of precipitate

New Latin praecipitatum, from Latin, neuter of praecipitatus — see 1precipitate

Other Chemical Engineering Terms


3

precipitate

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

Definition of precipitate

1 a :falling, flowing, or rushing with steep descent
2 :exhibiting violent or unwise speed

precipitately

adverb

precipitateness

noun

Examples of precipitate in a Sentence

  1. 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 DaileyNew York Review of Books27 Mar. 2002
  2. Almost at once I began to remember why drive-ins went into such a precipitate decline. To begin with, it is not remotely comfortable to sit in a car to watch a movie. —Bill BrysonI'm a Stranger Here Myself1999
  3. Assuming that the offering goes ahead—and only a precipitate slide in the stock market will stop it—a big slice of Wall Street history will disappear. —John CassidyNew Yorker8 Mar. 1999
  4. the army's precipitate withdrawal from the field of battle

Recent Examples of precipitate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precipitate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Many people, including usage commentators, are insistent about keeping the adjectives "precipitate" and "precipitous" distinct. "Precipitate," they say, means "headlong" or "impetuous"; "precipitous" means only "steep." And, indeed, "precipitate" is used mostly in the "headlong" sense, whereas "precipitous" usually means "steep." But one shouldn't be too hasty about insisting on the distinction. The truth is that "precipitate" and "precipitous" have had a tendency to overlap for centuries. Lexicographer Samuel Johnson, in his dictionary of 1755, defined "precipitate" as "steeply falling," "headlong," and "hasty," while "precipitous" was "headlong; steep," and "hasty." Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary included much the same definitions. The words' etymologies overlap as well. Both ultimately come from Latin praeceps, which means "headlong."

Origin and Etymology of precipitate

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

PRECIPITATE Defined for English Language Learners

precipitate

verb

Definition of precipitate for English Language Learners

  • : 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


precipitate

noun

Definition of precipitate for English Language Learners

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


precipitate

adjective

Definition of precipitate for English Language Learners

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


PRECIPITATE Defined for Kids

precipitate

verb pre·cip·i·tate \ pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt \

Definition of precipitate for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

1

precipitate

verb pre·cip·i·tate \ pri-ˈsip-ə-ˌtāt \

medical Definition of precipitate

precipitated; precipitating
transitive verb
1 :to bring about especially abruptly
2 a :to cause to separate from solution or suspension
b :to cause (vapor) to condense and fall or deposit
intransitive verb
1 :to fall or come suddenly into some condition
2 :to separate from solution or suspension

2

precipitate

noun pre·cip·i·tate \ pri-ˈsip-ət-ət, -ə-ˌtāt \

medical Definition of precipitate

:a substance separated from a solution or suspension by chemical or physical change usually as an insoluble amorphous or crystalline solid


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up precipitate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by intense feeling

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!