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 entry 2 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 Ensuring the efficiency of that vaccination program is essential because demand is likely to outstrip supply globally for some time and, particularly in low-income countries, each dose will be precious. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "How A.I. can speed up the COVID-19 vaccination drive," 5 Jan. 2021 So the year Amaria spent playing on a team and being with other kids was precious. Jeremy Gorner,, "Pandemic, civil unrest likely contributed to more than 50% increase in Chicago homicides in 2020, experts say," 31 Dec. 2020 And encouraging them to get together at times that are not as precious to you is also a wonderful solution. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Unpleasant relatives put a damper on holiday get-togethers," 22 Dec. 2020 My advice to other survivors is to remember how precious your time is and prioritize what feeds your soul. Malita Gardner, Good Housekeeping, "Returning to Work After Cancer Forced Me to Reprioritize My Life," 14 Dec. 2020 Family time can be precious, but even the most patient person is likely to get bored when surrounded by relatives for days on end. Sabienna Bowman,, "15 Movies On Amazon That You Can (& Should) Watch With Your Family," 12 Dec. 2020 In a sport in which every minute of practice and meeting time is precious, that was a dramatic decision. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, "Why experts say the NFL’s coronavirus strategy is putting the season in peril," 7 Dec. 2020 With many of us stuck at home for both work and play, silence is more precious than gold (or platinum, or tritium). Ryan Waniata, USA TODAY, "Cyber Monday 2020: Bose's legendary QC 35 II headphones are still on super sale," 30 Nov. 2020 Coffee and the backcountry go hand in hand, but pack weight is a huge consideration and pack space is precious, so the 20-ounce, stainless steel mug should stay at home. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The Backcountry Hunting and Fishing Gifts Guide," 24 Nov. 2020

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

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Precious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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

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