Origin of precipitate

1520–30; (v. and adj.) < Latin praecipitātus (past participle of praecipitāre to cast down headlong), equivalent to praecipit- (stem of praeceps steep; see precipice) + -ātus -ate1; (noun) < New Latin praecipitātum a precipitate, noun use of neuter of praecipitātus
Related formspre·cip·i·tate·ly, adverbpre·cip·i·tate·ness, nounpre·cip·i·ta·tive, adjectivepre·cip·i·ta·tor, nounnon·pre·cip·i·ta·tive, adjectiveun·pre·cip·i·tate, adjectiveun·pre·cip·i·tate·ly, adverbun·pre·cip·i·tate·ness, nounun·pre·cip·i·tat·ed, adjectiveun·pre·cip·i·ta·tive, adjectiveun·pre·cip·i·ta·tive·ly, adverb
Can be confusedprecipitate precipitous

Synonyms for precipitate

Antonyms for precipitate

1. retard. 12. careful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for precipitate

Contemporary Examples of precipitate

  • Unlike some of her peers, she is not motivated by an ideological zeal to precipitate Israel's destruction.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Sitting Beside A BDS Leader

    Eran Shayshon

    March 19, 2013

  • Continued temporizing could destroy the euro and precipitate another financial catastrophe.

    The Daily Beast logo
    We’re Doomed!

    Charles R. Morris

    August 11, 2011

  • Next in line is the arch- conservative Interior Minister Prince Nayif, who would alienate reformers and might precipitate unrest.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why the Saudi Royals are Scared

    Bruce Riedel

    March 8, 2011

  • If NATO withdraws, those forces will almost certainly sweep into Kabul and precipitate another protracted civil war.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Right and Left Are Wrong About My Movie

    Sebastian Junger

    July 21, 2010

  • Anger, alcohol, drugs, economic hopelessness, reckless driving—they can all precipitate tragedy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why I Love Guns

    Meghan McCain

    May 14, 2009

Historical Examples of precipitate

British Dictionary definitions for precipitate


verb (prɪˈsɪpɪˌteɪt)

(tr) to cause to happen too soon or sooner than expected; bring on
to throw or fall from or as from a height
to cause (moisture) to condense and fall as snow, rain, etc, or (of moisture, rain, etc) to condense and fall thus
chem to undergo or cause to undergo a process in which a dissolved substance separates from solution as a fine suspension of solid particles

adjective (prɪˈsɪpɪtɪt)

rushing ahead
done rashly or with undue haste
sudden and brief

noun (prɪˈsɪpɪtɪt)

chem a precipitated solid in its suspended form or after settling or filtering
Derived Formsprecipitable, adjectiveprecipitability, nounprecipitately, adverbprecipitateness, nounprecipitative, adjectiveprecipitator, noun

Word Origin for precipitate

C16: from Latin praecipitāre to throw down headlong, from praeceps headlong, steep, from prae before, in front + caput head
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 precipitate

"to hurl or fling down," 1520s, a back formation from precipitation or else from Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare "to throw or dive headlong," from praeceps "steep, headlong, headfirst" (see precipice). Meaning "to cause to happen, hurry the beginning of" is recorded from 1620s. Chemical sense is from 1620s; meteorological sense first attested 1863. Related: Precipitated; precipitating.


c.1600, from Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare "to throw or dive headlong" (see precipitate (v.)). Meaning "hasty" is attested from 1650s. Related: Precipitately.


1560s, probably a back formation from precipitation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

precipitate in Medicine


[prĭ-sĭpĭ-tāt′, -tĭt]


A solid or solid phase separated from a solution.
A punctate opacity on the posterior surface of the cornea developing from inflammatory cells in the vitreous body.punctate keratitis


To cause a solid substance to be separated from a solution.
To be separated from a solution as a solid.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

precipitate in Science



To fall from the atmosphere as rain, snow, or another form of precipitation.
To separate as a solid from a solution in chemical precipitation.


(prĭ-sĭpĭ-tāt′, -tĭt)
A solid material precipitated from a solution.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

precipitate in Culture


[(pri-sip-uh-tayt, pri-sip-uh-tuht)]

In chemistry, a solid material that is formed in a solution by chemical reactions and settles to the bottom of the container in which the reaction takes place. A precipitate may also be a substance removed from another by an artificial filter.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.