prec·i·pice | \ˈpre-s(ə-)pəs \

Definition of precipice 

1 : a very steep or overhanging place

2 : a hazardous situation broadly : brink

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of precipice in a Sentence

Twenty years ago, it seemed unlikely that black and white South Africans could avoid a cataclysmic struggle. How did we manage to turn back from the precipice and join one another in the long walk to a nonracial democracy? — F. W. De Klerk, Time, 18 Apr. 2005 These are the brave, friendly guys and gals who flip, twist, spin and somersault themselves backward into the sky and somehow land on a horrifyingly steep precipice without rearranging their rib cages or breaking their faces. — Curry Kirkpatrick, Newsweek, 21 Feb. 1994 … the helpless Cambodians were bused from the safety of a refugee camp to an outcropping along the border several hundred miles to the northeast, where they were forced over the precipice into a wild and inaccessible part of Cambodia from which it would be almost impossible to return to Thailand. — Barbara Crossette, New York Times Book Review, 2 Aug. 1987 He stood on the edge of the precipice. scaled the steep precipice with the ease of an experienced climber
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

With Malaysia’s democracy on a precipice, Mr. Najib ultimately decided against using force to stay in power. Yantoultra Ngui, WSJ, "Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Fallen Leader, Is Arrested and Charged in 1MDB Scandal," 4 July 2018 Teetering on the precipice between ominous and relatable, her performance has earned raves as the movie finds its place in a new boom of highbrow horror films. Eliza Berman, Time, "Toni Collette on Going Maternal and Maniacal for Her New Horror Hit Hereditary," 7 June 2018 From there, the next stop was Lukla, where an airport (with a 007-esque runway that ends at a sheer precipice) connects to Kathmandu. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "The Devastating Aftermath of an Avalanche on Everest," 6 July 2018 America hovered on the precipice of civil war, domestic insurrection and chaos. Peniel E. Joseph, Washington Post, "America’s nonviolent civil rights movement was considered uncivil by critics at the time," 4 July 2018 Marable is superb as Reggie, a man on the precipice who falls but lands on his feet. Julia M. Klein,, "'Skeleton Crew' at People's Light: Human relations in the workplace during the great recession," 18 June 2018 Pujols reached the precipice of the milestone earlier this week in Anaheim, getting two hits against Baltimore on Wednesday night — including his 620th career homer — before getting No. Tim Booth, Houston Chronicle, "Astros killer Albert Pujols becomes 32nd player in 3,000-hit club," 5 May 2018 Allman told Banfield investigators still have a number of questions about the crash, including whether everyone inside was alive when the vehicle hit the precipice. Chris Harris,, "Sheriff Says California Cliff Crash That Killed Family Was No Accident: 'I'm Calling It a Crime'," 5 Apr. 2018 Always on the precipice of the next big thing in music and technology, Black Eyed Peas, with their two decades of hitmaking, are most inspired musically by what's going on around them. Jordan Diaz, Billboard, "Black Eyed Peas Talk Teaming Up With Marvel for 'Masters of the Sun' Graphic Novel & Virtual Reality's Frontier: Exclusive Interview," 18 Jan. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of precipice

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for precipice

French, from Middle French, from Latin praecipitium, from praecipit-, praeceps headlong, from prae- + caput head — more at head

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about precipice

Phrases Related to precipice

on the edge of a precipice

Statistics for precipice

Last Updated

24 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precipice

The first known use of precipice was in 1613

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for precipice



English Language Learners Definition of precipice

: a very steep side of a mountain or cliff

: a point where danger, trouble, or difficulty begins


prec·i·pice | \ˈpre-sə-pəs \

Kids Definition of precipice

: a very steep side of a mountain or cliff

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on precipice

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


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!