par·​lous | \ ˈpär-ləs How to pronounce parlous (audio) \

Definition of parlous

1 obsolete : dangerously shrewd or cunning
2 : full of danger or risk

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Other Words from parlous

parlously adverb

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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," perīculum.) Both words are documented in use from at least the 14th century. Seven centuries later, both remain in steady use, often modifying state or times; however, perilous is, by far, the preferred synonym. More than likely, this is from having the familiar peril as a base.

Examples of parlous in a Sentence

The company is in a parlous financial situation. He talked about the parlous state of the country.
Recent Examples on the Web What’s already been laid bare is that Chelsea is unviable in its current form without the largesse of its billionaire patron, a reflection of a sport whose parlous finances would sink just about any other industry. David Hellier,, 11 Mar. 2022 On a visit to the Hasakah prison in 2019, The Washington Post found parlous conditions. Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2022 The state of American diplomacy was parlous, as the Nazis established a firm and apparently permanent foothold in most of Western Europe. Ronald C. Rosbottom, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2021 So, given its parlous financial state, how will the company pay for it? David Meyer, Fortune, 6 Oct. 2021 As with so many mid-tier clubs in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Sampdoria’s finances are parlous. New York Times, 16 July 2021 To the rest of the world, however, the state of Indian democracy looks increasingly parlous. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, 15 Apr. 2021 In trouble is, for a kid, a parlous state, fraught with terror. Kyle Smith, National Review, 9 Mar. 2021 One day, while walking the dog, Joel weighed in on the parlous state of the federal minimum wage. Belinda Luscombe, Time, 19 Feb. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parlous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of parlous

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for parlous

Middle English, variant of perilous perilous (through loss of medial syllable and regular lowering and backing of e)

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Time Traveler for parlous

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The first known use of parlous was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

3 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Parlous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on parlous

Nglish: Translation of parlous for Spanish Speakers


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