precipitate

verb
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \
precipitated; precipitating

Definition of precipitate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : 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
3a : to cause to separate from solution or suspension
b : to cause (vapor) to condense and fall or deposit

intransitive verb

1a : to fall headlong
b : to fall or come suddenly into some condition
2 : to move or act with violent or unwise speed
3a : to separate from solution or suspension
b : to condense from a vapor and fall as rain or snow

precipitate

noun
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-tət How to pronounce precipitate (audio) , -ˌtāt \

Definition of precipitate (Entry 2 of 3)

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

precipitate

adjective
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-tət How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \

Definition of precipitate (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Other Words from precipitate

Verb

precipitative \ pri-​ˈsi-​pə-​ˌtā-​tiv How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \ adjective
precipitator \ pri-​ˈsi-​pə-​ˌtā-​tər How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \ noun

Adjective

precipitately adverb
precipitateness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for precipitate

Adjective

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

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Adjective

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."

Examples of precipitate in a Sentence

Verb 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 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 Phillips, Harper's, November 1998 Her death precipitated a family crisis. The budget problem was precipitated by many unexpected costs. minerals that precipitate from seawater Noun 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 the exodus from the cities was an unexpected precipitate of the automobile, which effectively shrank distances the chemist filtered out the precipitate from the solution Adjective 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 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 Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999 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 Cassidy, New Yorker, 8 Mar. 1999 the army's precipitate withdrawal from the field of battle See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb He was joined later by Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, whose resignation and letter calling for Mr. Johnson to quit on Wednesday helped precipitate his downfall. New York Times, 8 July 2022 He was joined later by Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, whose resignation and letter calling for Johnson to quit Wednesday helped precipitate his downfall. Stephen Castle, BostonGlobe.com, 8 July 2022 That suggested a greater sensitivity to cortisol: a small increase in the hormone's concentration would precipitate a disproportionate physiological reaction. Rachel Yehuda, Scientific American, 18 June 2022 Appointing women leads women to be more closely associated with these traits that are seen as necessary to be leaders…and this can actually precipitate hiring more women in the future. Karen Hopkin, Scientific American, 16 June 2022 Capture of Severodonetsk could precipitate the fall of Luhansk, one of two eastern provinces bordering Russia that form the Donbas region, where the Kremlin has concentrated its military might after its failure to seize the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 Some salts of cyanide can precipitate out and build up as a kind of sediment. Quanta Magazine, 1 June 2022 Even brief episodes of binge-drinking can precipitate atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart rate increases and beats out of rhythm. Jonathan Reiner, CNN, 22 Jan. 2022 Their top concern is that the central banks will raise rates too much and then precipitate a global recession. Tom Aspray, Forbes, 23 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If the alkalinity gets too high, a chemical precipitate forms which can be toxic to ocean plankton. Eric Niiler, WSJ, 6 Mar. 2022 Our allies are rightly upset, blaming the U.S. for a precipitate, unilateral withdrawal that missed the opportunity for any coordinated plan to preserve some of the gains made in the country. Angelina Jolie, Time, 20 Aug. 2021 Does the mere act of making banks and other companies reveal their carbon footprint precipitate progress on eliminating climate risk? Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 21 May 2021 Although, the dusty precipitate may be melting away with the morning sun, the snow may have left a lasting impression on our local record books. Jared Boyd, AL.com, 9 Dec. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Many writers, mostly men, continue to rely on rape as a nuclear option for female characters, a tool with which to impassion viewers, precipitate drama, and stir up controversy. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 4 May 2021 This is all to the good, and better than a precipitate total withdrawal. The Editors, National Review, 22 Aug. 2017 See More

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.

First Known Use of precipitate

Verb

1528, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for precipitate

Verb and Adjective

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

Noun

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

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Time Traveler for precipitate

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The first known use of precipitate was in 1528

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Dictionary Entries Near precipitate

precipitant

precipitate

precipitation

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Precipitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precipitate. Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for precipitate

precipitate

verb
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \
precipitated; precipitating

Kids Definition of precipitate

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.

precipitate

verb
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsip-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \
precipitated; precipitating

Medical Definition of precipitate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bring about especially abruptly
2a : 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

precipitate

noun
pre·​cip·​i·​tate | \ pri-ˈsip-ət-ət, -ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce precipitate (audio) \

Medical Definition of precipitate (Entry 2 of 2)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on precipitate

Nglish: Translation of precipitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of precipitate for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about precipitate

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