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[verb pri-sip-i-teyt; adjective, noun pri-sip-i-tit, -teyt] /verb prɪˈsɪp ɪˌteɪt; adjective, noun prɪˈsɪp ɪ tɪt, -ˌteɪt/
verb (used with object), precipitated, precipitating.
to hasten the occurrence of; bring about prematurely, hastily, or suddenly:
to precipitate an international crisis.
to cast down headlong; fling or hurl down.
to cast, plunge, or send, especially violently or abruptly:
He precipitated himself into the struggle.
Chemistry. to separate (a substance) in solid form from a solution, as by means of a reagent.
verb (used without object), precipitated, precipitating.
Meteorology. to fall to the earth's surface as a condensed form of water; to rain, snow, hail, drizzle, etc.
to separate from a solution as a precipitate.
to be cast or thrown down headlong.
a precipitate fall down the stairs.
rushing headlong or rapidly onward.
proceeding rapidly or with great haste:
a precipitate retreat.
exceedingly sudden or abrupt:
a precipitate stop; a precipitate decision.
done or made without sufficient deliberation; overhasty; rash:
a precipitate marriage.
Chemistry. a substance precipitated from a solution.
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 forms
precipitately, adverb
precipitateness, noun
precipitative, adjective
precipitator, noun
nonprecipitative, adjective
unprecipitate, adjective
unprecipitately, adverb
unprecipitateness, noun
unprecipitated, adjective
unprecipitative, adjective
unprecipitatively, adverb
Can be confused
precipitate, precipitous.
1. accelerate. 4. crystallize. 12. reckless, impetuous.
1. retard. 12. careful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for precipitately
Historical Examples
  • Then he had precipitately retreated to the other side of the town followed by Braxton Wyatt, Blackstaffe and all the renegades.

    The Border Watch Joseph A. Altsheler
  • When coming to a decision, his Majesty never does so precipitately.

    The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Complete Madame La Marquise De Montespan
  • More than once the choice was precipitately abandoned at the last moment and another card snatched at hysteric haphazard.

    The Storm Centre Charles Egbert Craddock
  • After this, a peremptory summons from the bell dismissed us precipitately to bed.

    Tom, Dick and Harry Talbot Baines Reed
  • Drummond hesitated; whereupon the office boy, interpreting assent, precipitately vanished to usher in the client.

    The Destroying Angel Louis Joseph Vance
  • "Yes," Miss Suffern gasped, precipitately refilling her cup.

    Autres Temps... Edith Wharton
  • Dunwoodie started; and, forgetting everything but the duties of a soldier, he precipitately left the house.

    The Spy J. Fenimore Cooper
  • She took it precipitately,—a sign that she was slightly disturbed.

  • From the house they had left so precipitately they travelled six days with nothing to eat save what the woods furnished.

    Capturing a Locomotive William Pittenger
  • precipitately she thrusts a small crystal flask into Gurnemanz's hand.

British Dictionary definitions for precipitately


verb (prɪˈsɪpɪˌteɪt)
(transitive) 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 Forms
precipitable, adjective
precipitability, noun
precipitately, adverb
precipitateness, noun
precipitative, adjective
precipitator, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for precipitately



"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
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precipitately in Medicine

precipitate pre·cip·i·tate (prĭ-sĭp'ĭ-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. Also called punctate keratitis.

v. pre·cip·i·tat·ed, pre·cip·i·tat·ing, pre·cip·i·tates (-tāt')
  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.
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precipitately in Science
  1. (prĭ-sĭp'ĭ-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-sĭp'ĭ-tāt', -tĭt)

  2. A solid material precipitated from a solution.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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precipitately in Culture
precipitate [(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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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