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 After all, as the Morning Mayor taught us: Every new day should be unwrapped like a precious gift. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: India struggles with coronavirus; CVS and Sanofi shake up management," 13 Feb. 2020 Life is too precious to be worried about the superficial. Mika Brzezinski, NBC News, "'Let's embrace the raw and real us': Mika shares her unedited photos," 31 Jan. 2020 Still, though: Gone Home remains a precious, compelling thing. Julie Muncy, Wired, "The Decade's 10 Most Influential Videogames," 28 Dec. 2019 For all its importance though, the modern browser, especially the mobile Web browser, offers precious little in the way of features. Scott Gilbertson, Ars Technica, "Most mobile browsers display the Web, that’s it—Vivaldi Mobile can change that," 1 Oct. 2019 Chamberland gambled that something precious would be gained; Marie would grow up knowing her older sister. Globe Staff,, "She’s been bounced through more than a dozen foster homes. And she’s just 6," 24 Aug. 2019 Face-to-face time between a journalist and a candidate, especially a presidential candidate, is precious. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "Please, Reporters, Stop Asking Candidates Horse-Race Questions," 30 Jan. 2020 The March for Life is a major national event that recognizes the sanctity of human life and how precious each child is. Tawsif Anam, Washington Examiner, "I applaud President Trump's decision to speak at March for Life," 29 Jan. 2020 Needless to say, these photos Jenna keeps sharing are just too precious. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Fans Are CONVINCED Jenna Bush Hager's Baby Hal Looks Like George W. Bush in New Instagram," 26 Jan. 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

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 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

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