pre·​cious | \ ˈpre-shəs How to pronounce precious (audio) \

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

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of precious in a Sentence

Adjective 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 Adverb She had precious little to say. There are precious few hours of sunlight left.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But something more precious that Grandma Dunne had already instilled, and that had been present all along. David Mcgrath, Twin Cities, "David McGrath: A wrong turn to the right place," 25 Dec. 2019 Both of these suggestions, however, seemed in the end rather too precious and contrived. Antony Dapiran, Quartz, "What do we call Hong Kong’s nameless “2019 protests” in 2020?," 20 Dec. 2019 The exchange features 41 viewing tables, private cabins, and white crystal windows that allow for accurate appraisal of the color of precious stones. Kieron Monks, CNN, "Inside the world's largest diamond trading floor," 19 Dec. 2019 The trip gave me an even deeper appreciation for how these precious stones are sourced and produced, and how this industry is looking to better our environment and world. Micaela Erlanger, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Hollywood Stylist Traveled to Africa to See How Diamonds Are Recovered Firsthand," 12 Dec. 2019 Thanks to Howard’s mystical mumbo-jumbo about the power of precious stones, Garnett comes to think of the uncut gems as his good-luck charm. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Gonzo New York Movie Experience," 11 Dec. 2019 The auction will feature thousands of items that have not been claimed for many years including gold bars, collectible currency, diamond rings, necklaces and precious-stone jewelry sets. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Gold bars, diamond rings and more: Arizona auctioning items from abandoned safe-deposit boxes," 5 Dec. 2019 As Iraqi musicians flourished, and cafes resounded at all hours, modernist homes were built in the 1940s and 1950s fitted with striking wooden engravings and precious stone. Washington Post, "Century ago and today, Baghdad street a front line in revolt," 1 Dec. 2019 The treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony was established in 1723 and today contains around 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials on display in the historic palace. David Rising And Frank Jordans, USA TODAY, "Thieves rob Germany's Green Vault museum, make off with jewels of 'immeasurable worth'," 26 Nov. 2019

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for precious

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for precious

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for precious


How to pronounce precious (audio)

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 How to pronounce precious (audio) \

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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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).


good-natured easy friendliness

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