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adjective pre·cious \ˈpre-shəs\

Simple Definition of precious

  • : rare and worth a lot of money

  • : very valuable or important : too valuable or important to be wasted or used carelessly

  • : greatly loved, valued, or important

Full Definition of precious

  1. 1 :  of great value or high price <precious jewels>

  2. 2 :  highly esteemed or cherished <a precious friend>

  3. 3 :  excessively refined :  affected <precious manners>

  4. 4 :  great, thoroughgoing <a precious scoundrel>

pre·cious·ness noun

Examples of precious

  1. That so many of China's cleverest and most creative men and women had to sell their books and their most precious carvings and family seals to keep themselves alive, while corpulent nationalists and their friends dined well in local banquet halls, gave them some right to schadenfreude. —Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China, 2008

  2. Of course, the war pronounces on us all. Some precious glee we seek is absent, the season less substantial, less likeable. —Richard Ford, Wall Street Journal, 14-15 June 2008

  3. The world is, as usual, a frightening place to enter for all save the precious few impaired by inherited security. —David Mamet, True and False, 1997

  4. … and, though to him those precious moments at the end of each day had symbolized the realization of his every hope, to her they had meant not a goddamn thing. —Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997

  5. diamonds and other precious stones

  6. We can save precious time by taking this shortcut.

  7. They were able to be together for only a few precious hours.

  8. the family's most precious moments

Origin of precious

Middle English, from Anglo-French precios, from Latin pretiosus, from pretium price — more at price

First Known Use: 13th century



adverb pre·cious \ˈpre-shəs\

Simple Definition of precious

  • : very or extremely

Full Definition of precious

  1. :  very, extremely <has precious little to say>

Examples of precious

  1. She had precious little to say.

  2. There are precious few hours of sunlight left.

Origin of precious

(see 1precious)

First Known Use: 1595

PRECIOUS Defined for Kids


adjective pre·cious \ˈpre-shəs\

Definition of precious

  1. 1 :  very valuable <Diamonds and emeralds are precious stones.>

  2. 2 :  greatly loved or valued <a precious friend> <precious memories>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up precious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

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