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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Much concern has been expressed that acid precipitation causes a reduction in forest productivity.
▪ In the last four days, we've had three inches of precipitation.
▪ Bennet also did numerous experiments on the electrostatic precipitation of powders.
▪ Changes in wind appear to have been more important ecologically than changes in temperature or precipitation.
▪ Interference can be avoided by the precipitation of zinc sulphide and filtration.
▪ Secondly, the persistence of a canopy enhances the interception of nutrients from precipitation.
▪ The diameter of the circular precipitation line is measured arid compared to standards for quantitation.
▪ The most likely cause is a local reduction in precipitation.
▪ The upswing in precipitation, and the crypto-science that explained it, were exactly what was needed.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Precipitation \Pre*cip`i*ta"tion\, n. [L. praecipitatio: cf. F. pr['e]cipitation.]

  1. The act of precipitating, or the state of being precipitated, or thrown headlong.

    In peril of precipitation From off rock Tarpeian.

  2. A falling, flowing, or rushing downward with violence and rapidity.

    The hurry, precipitation, and rapid motion of the water, returning . . . towards the sea.

  3. Great hurry; rash, tumultuous haste; impetuosity. ``The precipitation of inexperience.''

  4. (Chem.) The act or process of precipitating from a solution.

  5. (Meteorology) A deposit on the earth of hail, mist, rain, sleet, or snow; also, the quantity of water deposited.

    Note: Deposits of dew, fog, and frost are not regarded by the United States Weather Bureau as precipitation. Sleet and snow are melted, and the record of precipitation shows the depth of the horizontal layers of water in hundredths of an inch or in millimeters.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 15c., "a casting down" (of the evil angels from heaven), also, in alchemy "separation of a solid substance from a solution," from Middle French precipitation (15c.) and directly from Latin praecipitationem (nominative praecipitatio) "act or fact of falling headlong, haste," noun of action from past participle stem of praecipitare "fall, be hasty," from praeceps "steep" (see precipice). Meaning "sudden haste" is c.1500. Meaning "act of falling from a height" is attested from 1610s. Meteorological sense of "rain, snow, dew, etc." is from 1670s.


n. 1 (context meteorology English) Any or all of the forms of water particles, whether liquid or solid, that fall from the atmosphere (e.g., rain, hail, snow or sleet). It is a major class of hydrometeor, but it is distinguished from cloud, fog, dew, rime, frost, etc., in that it must fall. It is distinguished from cloud and virga in that it must reach the ground. 2 A hurried headlong fall. 3 (context countable chemistry English) A reaction that leads to the formation of a heavier solid in a lighter liquid; the precipitate so formed at the bottom of the container. 4 (context figuratively English) unwise or rash rapidity; sudden haste.

  1. n. the quantity of water falling to earth at a specific place within a specified period of time; "the storm brought several inches of precipitation"

  2. the process of forming a chemical precipitate

  3. the falling to earth of any form of water (rain or snow or hail or sleet or mist) [syn: downfall]

  4. the act of casting down or falling headlong from a height

  5. an unexpected acceleration or hastening; "he is responsible for the precipitation of his own demise"

  6. overly eager speed (and possible carelessness); "he soon regretted his haste" [syn: haste, hastiness, hurry, hurriedness]


In meteorology, precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation include drizzle, rain, sleet, snow, graupel and hail. Precipitation occurs when a portion of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, so that the water condenses and "precipitates". Thus, fog and mist are not precipitation but suspensions, because the water vapor does not condense sufficiently to precipitate. Two processes, possibly acting together, can lead to air becoming saturated: cooling the air or adding water vapor to the air. Precipitation forms as smaller droplets coalesce via collision with other rain drops or ice crystals within a cloud. Short, intense periods of rain in scattered locations are called "showers."

Moisture overriding associated with weather fronts is an overall major method of precipitation production. If enough moisture and upward motion is present, precipitation falls from convective clouds such as cumulonimbus and can organize into narrow rainbands. Where relatively warm water bodies are present, for example due to water evaporation from lakes, lake-effect snowfall becomes a concern downwind of the warm lakes within the cold cyclonic flow around the backside of extratropical cyclones. Lake-effect snowfall can be locally heavy. Thundersnow is possible within a cyclone's comma head and within lake effect precipitation bands. In mountainous areas, heavy precipitation is possible where upslope flow is maximized within windward sides of the terrain at elevation. On the leeward side of mountains, desert climates can exist due to the dry air caused by compressional heating. The movement of the monsoon trough, or intertropical convergence zone, brings rainy seasons to savannah climes.

Precipitation is a major component of the water cycle, and is responsible for depositing the fresh water on the planet. Approximately of water falls as precipitation each year; of it over the oceans and over land. Given the Earth's surface area, that means the globally averaged annual precipitation is , but over land it is only . Climate classification systems such as the Köppen climate classification system use average annual rainfall to help differentiate between differing climate regimes.

Precipitation may occur on other celestial bodies, e.g. when it gets cold, Mars has precipitation which most likely takes the form of ice needles, rather than rain or snow.

Precipitation (chemistry)

Precipitation is the creation of a solid from a solution. When the reaction occurs in a liquid solution, the solid formed is called the 'precipitate'. The chemical that causes the solid to form is called the 'precipitant'. Without sufficient force of gravity ( settling) to bring the solid particles together, the precipitate remains in suspension. After sedimentation, especially when using a centrifuge to press it into a compact mass, the precipitate may be referred to as a 'pellet'. The precipitate-free liquid remaining above the solid is called the 'supernate' or 'supernatant'. Powders derived from precipitation have also historically been known as 'flowers'.

Sometimes the formation of a precipitate indicates the occurrence of a chemical reaction. If silver nitrate solution is poured into a solution of sodium chloride, a chemical reaction occurs forming a white precipitate of silver chloride. When potassium iodide solution reacts with lead (II) nitrate solution, a yellow precipitate of lead (II) iodide is formed.

Precipitation may occur if the concentration of a compound exceeds its solubility (such as when mixing solvents or changing their temperature). Precipitation may occur rapidly from a supersaturated solution.

In solids, precipitation occurs if the concentration of one solid is above the solubility limit in the host solid, due to e.g. rapid quenching or ion implantation, and the temperature is high enough that diffusion can lead to segregation into precipitates. Precipitation in solids is routinely used to synthesize nanoclusters.

An important stage of the precipitation process is the onset of nucleation. The creation of a hypothetical solid particle includes the formation of an interface, which requires some energy based on the relative surface energy of the solid and the solution. If this energy is not available, and no suitable nucleation surface is available, supersaturation occurs.

Precipitation (horse)

Precipitation was an influential British bred Thoroughbred stallion who is found in the pedigrees of many racehorses and sport horses today. He alone is responsible for maintaining the Matchem sireline, through Sheshoon, except for the American Fair Play branch.

Precipitation (disambiguation)

Precipitation is a meteorological phenomenon consisting of rain, sleet, hail, snow, and other forms of water falling from the sky.

Precipitation may also refer to:

  • Basic precipitation, a type of meteorological precipitation characterized by high alkalinity
  • Precipitation (chemistry), the condensation of a solid from a solution during a chemical reaction:
    • Ammonium sulfate precipitation, a method of purifying proteins
    • Precipitation hardening, a method used to strengthen malleable materials
    • Protein precipitation, a method of separating contaminants from biological products
    • Ethanol precipitation, a method of concentrating DNA

Usage examples of "precipitation".

When the barometer begins to fall, it is a sure warning of an approaching north-westerly wind, which is always accompanied by precipitation, and increases in force until the fall of the barometer ceases.

It is best separated from this precipitate by fusion with bisulphate of potash, as already described, but it must be remembered that the presence of much mineral acid prevents complete precipitation when the solution is boiled.

It may be removed by passing sulphuretted hydrogen through the filtrate from the acetate separation: sulphides of nickel, cobalt and zinc will be precipitated, whilst manganese remains in solution: the addition of more sodium acetate may assist the precipitation.

The manganese is determined in the titrated solution by precipitation as dioxide and titrating.

If sulphuretted hydrogen is passed through an acid solution containing the metals till no further precipitation takes place, a precipitate will be formed containing sulphides insoluble in the acid.

It is separated from potassium by fractional precipitation with platinic chloride.

Anyway, she was familiar with the fact that the addition of a bromide to a mixture containing strychnine would cause the precipitation of the latter.

Most precipitation, he vaguely remembered learning once, fell from nimbostratus, altostratus or cumulonimbus clouds.

As soon as she sounded a revolt in the ears of Zeno, he fled with precipitation into the mountains of Isauria, and her brother Basiliscus, already infamous by his African expedition, was unanimously proclaimed by the servile senate.

The confederate army passed the Moselle and the Saar in the beginning of June, and encamped at Elft in sight of the enemy, who retired with great precipitation, and intrenched themselves in the neighbourhood of Coningsmarcheren.

Similar grains, lodging in the folds of the bladder, gradually increase in size, by the precipitation of more salts around them, and ultimately become a source of much irritation.

The vegetable matter in common inks facilitates the destruction, or rather alteration and precipitation of the indigo, for the dye appears in the iron precipitate and may be extracted from it with boiling water.

All tanno-gallate of iron inks require some vehicle to hold their particles in a state of suspension, otherwise there would be precipitation and such an ink could not be used.

Whereas former deserts like those in the Middle East and northern Africa were blessed now with sweet downpourings of precipitation as never before, and the whole southeastern arc of the United States from East Texas to Florida had turned into one enormous rain forest, strangling under a phantasmagorical burden of colossal furry vines and great clumps of orchids and gigantic creeping plants with shiny leaves.

A juicy dropping struck my shoulder, and I could see a rain of falling particles, a noxious precipitation from the thundering flock overhead, raising tiny puffs of dust from the street as the droppings struck.