[verb pri-sip-i-teyt; adjective, noun pri-sip-i-tit, -teyt]
verb (used with object), pre·cip·i·tat·ed, pre·cip·i·tat·ing.
  1. to hasten the occurrence of; bring about prematurely, hastily, or suddenly: to precipitate an international crisis.
  2. to cast down headlong; fling or hurl down.
  3. to cast, plunge, or send, especially violently or abruptly: He precipitated himself into the struggle.
  4. Chemistry. to separate (a substance) in solid form from a solution, as by means of a reagent.
verb (used without object), pre·cip·i·tat·ed, pre·cip·i·tat·ing.
  1. Meteorology. to fall to the earth's surface as a condensed form of water; to rain, snow, hail, drizzle, etc.
  2. to separate from a solution as a precipitate.
  3. to be cast or thrown down headlong.
  1. headlong: a precipitate fall down the stairs.
  2. rushing headlong or rapidly onward.
  3. proceeding rapidly or with great haste: a precipitate retreat.
  4. exceedingly sudden or abrupt: a precipitate stop; a precipitate decision.
  5. done or made without sufficient deliberation; overhasty; rash: a precipitate marriage.
  1. Chemistry. a substance precipitated from a solution.
  2. moisture condensed in the form of rain, snow, etc.

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

British Dictionary definitions for precipitator


verb (prɪˈsɪpɪˌteɪt)
  1. (tr) to cause to happen too soon or sooner than expected; bring on
  2. to throw or fall from or as from a height
  3. to cause (moisture) to condense and fall as snow, rain, etc, or (of moisture, rain, etc) to condense and fall thus
  4. 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)
  1. rushing ahead
  2. done rashly or with undue haste
  3. sudden and brief
noun (prɪˈsɪpɪtɪt)
  1. 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 precipitator



"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

precipitator in Medicine


[prĭ-sĭpĭ-tāt′, -tĭt]
  1. A solid or solid phase separated from a solution.
  2. A punctate opacity on the posterior surface of the cornea developing from inflammatory cells in the vitreous body.punctate keratitis
  1. To cause a solid substance to be separated from a solution.
  2. 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.

precipitator in Science


  1. (prĭ-sĭpĭ-tāt′)
  2. To fall from the atmosphere as rain, snow, or another form of precipitation.
  3. To separate as a solid from a solution in chemical precipitation.
  1. (prĭ-sĭpĭ-tāt′, -tĭt)
  2. A solid material precipitated from a solution.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

precipitator 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.