precipitate

precipitate, precipitous
1. The two words overlap in meaning and were used interchangeably from the 17c to the 19c. Precipitous has a physical meaning ‘sheer like a precipice’:

• There was a precipitous wooden stair to the ground floor —A. Craig, 1990.

In its abstract sense it is concerned with the over-rapid progress of an action and retains the notion of steep descent, and is therefore often found in the company of words such as decline

• (A number of factors might be responsible for such a precipitous decline —A. Wilentz, 1989)

whereas precipitate is concerned rather with the inception of an action and means rather ‘hasty, rash, inconsiderate’ or ‘headlong, violently hurried’:

• His precipitate action was clearly calculated to make life harder rather than easier for the PLO as he abandoned responsibility for civil servants in the West Bank. —D. McDowell, 1990

• One can't help wondering whether rumours of his precipitate departure might not be wishful thinking —Sunday Herald, 2001.

It is in this second set of meanings that the two words come closest, since any action that is precipitate in its inception is likely to be precipitous in its performance or consequences.
2. Of the corresponding adverbs, precipitously encroaches on precipitately, especially in AmE:

• I left precipitously because I didn't want to work there any longer —A. Cross, AmE 1986

(precipitately is wanted)

• Angus had precipitately fled on learning that the king was loose and in vengeful mood —J. Burke, 1990.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Precipitate EP — EP Interpol …   Википедия

  • Precipitate — Pre*cip i*tate, n. [NL. praecipitatum: cf. F. pr[ e]cipit[ e].] (Chem.) 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Precipitate — Pre*cip i*tate, a. [L. praecipitatus, p. p. of praecipitare to precipitate, fr. praeceps headlong. See {Precipice}.] 1. Overhasty; rash; as, the king was too precipitate in declaring war. Clarendon. [1913 Webster] 2. Lacking due deliberation or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Precipitate — Pre*cip i*tate, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Precipitated}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Precipitating}.] 1. To throw headlong; to cast down from a precipice or height. [1913 Webster] She and her horse had been precipitated to the pebbled region of the river. W.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • precipitate — adj Precipitate, headlong, abrupt, impetuous, hasty, sudden as applied to persons or their acts or be havior denote characterized by excessive haste and unexpectedness. Precipitate especially stresses lack of due deliberation; sometimes it… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Precipitate — Pre*cip i*tate, v. i. 1. To dash or fall headlong. [R.] [1913 Webster] So many fathom down precipitating. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. To hasten without preparation. [R.] [1913 Webster] 3. (Chem.) To separate from a solution as a precipitate. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • precipitate — [v] hurry, speed accelerate, advance, bring on, cast, discharge, dispatch, expedite, fling, further, hasten, hurl, launch, let fly, press, push forward, quicken, send forth, speed up, throw, trigger; concepts 152,242,704 Ant. check, slow, wait… …   New thesaurus

  • precipitate — [prē sip′ə tāt΄, prisip′ə tāt΄; ] for adj. [ & ] n. [, prē sip′ə tit, pri sip′ətit, prē sip′ ə tāt΄, pri sip′ətāt΄] vt. precipitated, precipitating [< L praecipitatus, pp. of praecipitare < praeceps: see PRECIPICE] 1. to throw headlong;… …   English World dictionary

  • precipitate# — precipitate vb *speed, accelerate, quicken, hasten, hurry Analogous words: drive, impel (see MOVE vb): *force, compel, coerce, constrain precipitate n *deposit, sediment, dregs, lees, grounds …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • precipitate — I adjective abrupt, breakneck, foolhardy, harebrained, hasty, headlong, headstrong, heady, hellbent, hot headed, hurried, immediate, impetuous, imprudent, impulsive, inconsultus, indiscreet, injudicious, madcap, overconfident, overly hasty,… …   Law dictionary

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