Definition of parlous
1 obsolete : dangerously shrewd or cunning
2 : full of danger or risk
parlous was our Word of the Day on 02/16/2010. Hear the podcast!
Examples of parlous in a sentence
The company is in a parlous financial situation.
He talked about the parlous state of the country.
Did You Know?
Parlous is both a synonym and a derivative of "perilous"; it came to be as an alteration of "perilous" in Middle English. ("Perilous" is derived from the Anglo-French perilleus, which ultimately comes from the Latin word for "danger": "periculum.") Both words are documented in use from at least the 14th century, but by the 17th century "parlous" had slipped from common use and was considered more or less archaic. It experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 20th century (although some critics still regarded it as an archaic affectation), and today it appears in fairly common use, often modifying "state" or "times."
Origin and Etymology of parlous
Middle English, alteration of perilous
First Known Use: 14th century
PARLOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of parlous for English Language Learners
: full of danger or risk
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up parlous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).