Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Rushing or falling headlong.
  • adj. Acting with or marked by impulsiveness in thought or action; rash. See Usage Note at precipitate.
  • adj. Abrupt or unexpected; sudden.
  • n. Chemistry A substance that causes a precipitate to form when it is added to a solution.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. That falls headlong, or causes a headlong fall
  • adj. Rash or impulsive
  • adj. Sudden or unexpected
  • adj. That causes precipitation
  • n. A substance that forms a precipitate when added to a solution

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Falling or rushing headlong; rushing swiftly, violently, or recklessly; moving precipitately.
  • adj. Unexpectedly or foolishly brought on or hastened; rashly hurried; hasty; sudden; reckless.
  • n. Any force or reagent which causes the formation of a precipitate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Falling headlong; headlong.
  • Rushing hastily onward.
  • Rashly hasty; precipitate; characterized by rapid movement or progress; impatient to reach a conclusion.
  • n. In chem., an agent which, when added to a solution, separates something dissolved and causes it to precipitate, or fall to the bottom in a concrete state.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an agent that causes a precipitate to form
  • adj. done with very great haste and without due deliberation

Etymologies

Latin praecipitāns, praecipitant-, present participle of praecipitāre, to throw headlong; see precipitate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French precipitant, from Latin praecipitans, present participle of praecipitare ("to cast down headlong"), from praeceps ("head foremost, headlong"), from prae ("before") + caput ("head"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The precipitant was his involvement in an incident of stealing in a department store, following which he was put on probation.

    Clinical Work with Adolescents

  • "Unemployment is very often the precipitant or at least a contributor to family homicides," Mr. Fox said.

    Mayor Touts 'Safest Decade'

  • Kevin Rexroad, M.D., a psychiatrist in New Mexico, stressed that the pain of divorce should not be underestimated when considering its impact on children or whether it can be factored in as a precipitant to violence:

    Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT: Parricide: A Tragic Failure of Attachment (Part I)

  • In my observation, it may even be the prime precipitant of serious distress.

    Dr. Ali Binazir: How to Prevent Your Ivy League Child From Becoming Suicidal

  • In The Heart of Addiction, Lance Dodes, M.D., includes a chapter "Addictive Behavior as a Rebellion Against a Punitive Conscience," and writes, "Severe, unrealistic self-criticism is a very common precipitant of addictive behavior."

    Hillary Rettig: Perfectionism And Addiction

  • America's present day myths (Our Health Care System is the best those inferiors that can't make it are the cause of our being robbed of our rights, Obama is a foreigner, Sotomayor is a racist, if we drill domestically we will be OK) are precipitant arguments which address the needs of those who have to focus on outside bogy men.

    Paranoia, Sanity and Right Wing Violence

  • But there are issues that likely arose between the two of them that may have been part of the precipitant here.

    CNN Transcript Sep 18, 2009

  • It really didn't matter the immediate precipitant: both sides used their extra fifteen minutes to do just as they wanted, which is not to say both sides deployed the extra time wisely.

    Pachacutec: Patrick Fitzgerald's Closing Argument

  • If direct talks (open or secret) do not begin soon, if all sides continue to respond only to that latest action of the other as if it had no precipitant, than the cycle will continue and could spin into a war no side truly wants.

    Joe Cirincione: Gulf Action-Reaction Cycle Could Spin to War

  • This open letter and other written material (like that found in the enclosed links) opposing war on moral and-or religious grounds "demonstrate a discrete and documented change in belief, including a precipitant, that converted a non-CO to a CO," if they are listed as the persuasive moral, religioius, and philosophical arguments leading to your objector status.

    Stan Goff: Who and Whose (Open Letter to Troops)

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