pre·​cious | \ ˈpre-shəs \

Definition of precious

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of great value or high price precious jewels
2 : highly esteemed or cherished a precious friend
3 : excessively refined : affected precious manners
4 : great, thoroughgoing a precious scoundrel



Definition of precious (Entry 2 of 2)

: very, extremely has precious little to say

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Other Words from precious


preciousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for precious

Synonyms: Adjective

big-ticket, costly, dear, expensive, extravagant, high, high-end, high-ticket, premium, priceless, pricey (also pricy), spendy [chiefly Northwest], ultraexpensive, valuable

Antonyms: Adjective

cheap, inexpensive

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Examples of precious in a Sentence


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 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 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 … 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 diamonds and other precious stones We can save precious time by taking this shortcut. They were able to be together for only a few precious hours. the family's most precious moments


She had precious little to say. There are precious few hours of sunlight left.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

While certain valuable antiques required careful restoration, other less-precious pieces—like a dilapidated secretary—gave McCory a chance to experiment a bit. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "How Kristen McCory Integrated A Client's Grandmother's Favorite Lipstick Color Into Her Design," 10 Jan. 2019 And with precious few days left until the awards show takes place, the moment to make a wish list of what this year’s nominees should wear—as well as look at some of their past fashion wins—is now. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Best Golden Globes Dresses of All Time," 4 Jan. 2019 The Olsen twins portray Maddie and Abby Parker, who are placed in the FBI’s Witness Protection Program after stumbling into the robbery of a very precious diamond. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Which Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Movie You Should Watch According to Your Zodiac Sign," 2 Jan. 2019 My beautiful girls and my precious grandkids, who bring me so much joy!! Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "The Kardashian-Jenner Christmas Card Is Here, and It's Too Cute For Words," 24 Dec. 2018 Speed at every turn, easy and flexible customization of both the interface and app icons, and precious little in the way of annoyances. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "OnePlus 6T review: revised formula, same results," 29 Oct. 2018 While some families have small plots of land to farm, the tired soil yields precious little, and many kids must work in mines alongside their parents in order to make ends meet. Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, Marie Claire, "Is Your Makeup the Result of Child Labor?," 16 Oct. 2018 Your job, as part of a team of 12, is to spend those precious early moments building a defensive structure around your mascot. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Fortnite’s frantic food fight is its best mode yet," 15 Nov. 2018 Little People, Big World fans couldn't contain their excitement over the precious moment. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Matt Roloff Takes to Instagram to Address Fans' Concerns About Jackson's Bruise," 28 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precious.' 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 precious


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1595, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for precious

Adjective and Adverb

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

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Statistics for precious

Last Updated

23 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precious

The first known use of precious was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for precious



English Language Learners Definition of precious

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of precious (Entry 2 of 2)

: very or extremely


pre·​cious | \ ˈpre-shəs \

Kids Definition of precious

1 : very valuable Diamonds and emeralds are precious stones.
2 : greatly loved or valued a precious friend precious memories

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More from Merriam-Webster on precious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for precious

Spanish Central: Translation of precious

Nglish: Translation of precious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of precious for Arabic Speakers

Comments on precious

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


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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