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

  • transitive v. To throw from or as if from a great height; hurl downward: "The finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below” ( Thornton Wilder).
  • transitive v. To cause to happen, especially suddenly or prematurely. See Synonyms at speed.
  • transitive v. Meteorology To cause (water vapor) to condense and fall from the air as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
  • transitive v. Chemistry To cause (a solid substance) to be separated from a solution.
  • intransitive v. Meteorology To condense and fall from the air as rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
  • intransitive v. Chemistry To be separated from a solution as a solid.
  • intransitive v. To fall or be thrown headlong: an ailing economy that precipitated into ruin despite foreign intervention.
  • adj. Moving rapidly and heedlessly; speeding headlong.
  • adj. Acting with or marked by excessive haste and lack of due deliberation. See Synonyms at impetuous, reckless.
  • adj. Occurring suddenly or unexpectedly.
  • n. Chemistry A solid or solid phase separated from a solution.
  • n. A product resulting from a process, event, or course of action.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. headlong; falling steeply or vertically.
  • adj. Very steep; precipitous.
  • adj. With a hasty impulse; hurried; headstrong.
  • adj. Moving with excessive speed or haste.
  • adj. Performed very rapidly or abruptly.
  • n. A product resulting from a process, event, or course of action.
  • n. A solid that exits the liquid phase of a solution.
  • v. To make something happen suddenly and quickly; hasten.
  • v. To throw an object or person from a great height.
  • v. To send violently into a certain state or condition.
  • v. To come out of a liquid solution into solid form.
  • v. To separate a substance out of a liquid solution into solid form.
  • v. To have water in the air fall to the ground, for example as rain, snow, sleet, or hail; be deposited as condensed droplets.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Overhasty; rash.
  • adj. Lacking due deliberation or care; hurried; said or done before the time.
  • adj. Falling, flowing, or rushing, with steep descent; headlong.
  • adj. Ending quickly in death; brief and fatal.
  • n. An insoluble substance separated from a solution in a concrete state by the action of some reagent added to the solution, or of some force, such as heat or cold. The precipitate may fall to the bottom (whence the name), may be diffused through the solution, or may float at or near the surface.
  • n. atmospheric moisture condensed as rain or snow, etc.; same as precipitation{5}.
  • intransitive v. To dash or fall headlong.
  • intransitive v. To hasten without preparation.
  • intransitive v. To separate from a solution as a precipitate. See Precipitate, n.
  • transitive v. To throw headlong; to cast down from a precipice or height.
  • transitive v. To urge or press on with eager haste or violence; to cause to happen, or come to a crisis, suddenly or too soon.
  • transitive v. To separate from a solution, or other medium, in the form of a precipitate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cast down headlong; fling from a precipice or height; hurl downward.
  • To cause to fall as a sediment to the bottom of a vessel; reduce from a state of solution to a solid form, as by means of a reagent or chemical force.
  • To drive forcibly; cause to hasten onward.
  • To hasten; bring hastily to pass; hurry up: as, to precipitate a flight.
  • To hasten intemperately or rashly; hence, to spoil; ruin.
  • To fall headlong.
  • To make haste; hurry; proceed without deliberation.
  • In chem., to separate from a solution as a precipitate.
  • Hurled headlong; plunging or rushing down, as by a steep descent; headlong.
  • Steep; precipitous.
  • Hasty; acting without due deliberation; rash.
  • Hastily brought to pass; speedy; hurried; sudden.
  • Synonyms and Precipitous now always expresses the physical attribute of a headlong steepness; precipitate the moral quality of being very hasty or overhasty. Other uses are obsolete or figurative.
  • n. In Chem., any substance which, having been dissolved in a fluid, falls to the bottom of the vessel on the addition of some other substance capable of producing decomposition of the compound.
  • n. Fusible white precipitate, colorless crystals, soluble in water (probably of the composition NHg2C1.3NH4Cl), which melt and then decompose on being heated: produced by boiling the infusible white precipitate with a solution of ammonium chlorid.
  • n. An abbreviated term sometimes used to signify the bright yellow precipitate of ammonium phosphomolybdate frequently obtained in analysis as a proof of the presence of, or as the means of quantitatively determining, phosphorus or the radical of phosphoric acid and phosphates.

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

  • v. fall from clouds
  • v. bring about abruptly
  • adj. done with very great haste and without due deliberation
  • n. a precipitated solid substance in suspension or after settling or filtering
  • v. separate as a fine suspension of solid particles
  • v. hurl or throw violently
  • v. fall vertically, sharply, or headlong


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

Latin praecipitāre, praecipitāt-, to throw headlong, from praeceps, praecipit-, headlong : prae-, pre- + caput, capit-, head

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin praecipitō ("throw down, hurl down"), from praeceps ("head foremost, headlong"), from prae ("before") + caput ("head").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin praecipitatum

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin praecipitatus


  • The word precipitate has appeared in 46 New York Times articles in the past year, including on July 25 in the City Room blog post What Migraine?

    NYT > Home Page

  • Learn more about the word "precipitate" and see usage examples across a range of subjects on the dictionary.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Unlikely to have randomly slaughtered 20,000 citizens, run the economy into the ground, and indulged in precipitate invasions and international terrorist operations.

    Matthew Yglesias » Carter on Gaza

  • He was “queer,” she said; and at another time she called him a crank when describing how he sat at the counter and peered at her through his spectacles, blushing and stammering when she took notice of him, and often leaving the shop in precipitate confusion.


  • A precipitate is a solid generated out of a solution via chemical reaction.

    Somewhat overgeneralized chemistry analogy of the day

  • Each precipitate is more or less adherent, depending on how it combines with phlogiston and on the quantity of oil, present as an intermediate, available to join coloring particles to cloth. 25 His explanation for the use of this material again relies on a macroscopic analogy based on his practical experience.

    The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe

  • In the stock market, it refers to a precipitate decline in prices, usually accompanied by a sharp decline in economic activity.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • The precipitate is skimmed off and dissolved in hot acid alcohol.

    Frederick G. Banting - Nobel Lecture

  • The precipitate is then dissolved in a small quantity of acid water.

    Frederick G. Banting - Nobel Lecture

  • After standing overnight the resultant precipitate is removed by centrifuging.

    Frederick G. Banting - Nobel Lecture


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  • Be careful lest ye precipitate precipitate actions!

    January 19, 2012

  • In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. ... Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?

    Martin Luther King, "Letter From Birmingham Jail"

    November 29, 2011