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  1. beginning to exist or appear; in an initial stage: an incipient cold.
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Origin of incipient

1580–90; < Latin incipient- (stem of incipiēns, present participle of incipere to take in hand, begin), equivalent to in- in-2 + -cipi- (combining form of capi- take) + -ent- -ent
Related formsin·cip·i·ent·ly, adverb
Can be confusedincipient insipid insipient


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for incipient

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He, too, was found to be suffering from incipient tuberculosis.

  • How ludicrous is the incipient inebriety of a man who wears spectacles!

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • William was straining at his collar and growling like an incipient thunderstorm.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

  • His eyes were ringed and bloodshot with fatigue, and with incipient snow-blindness.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

  • He had reached the incipient stages of regret of his rash promise.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for incipient


  1. just starting to be or happen; beginning
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Derived Formsincipience or incipiency, nounincipiently, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Latin incipiēns, from incipere to begin, take in hand, from in- ² + capere to take
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for incipient


1660s, from Latin incipientem (nominative incipiens), present participle of incipere "begin, take up," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + -cipere, comb. form of capere "to take" (see capable).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper