prec·​i·​pice | \ ˈpre-s(ə-)pəs How to pronounce precipice (audio) \

Definition of precipice

1 : a very steep or overhanging place
2 : a hazardous situation broadly : brink

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
Recent Examples on the Web Saying that Twitter is on the precipice of a radically different future is no understatement. Paige Mcglauflin, Fortune, 9 May 2022 Arguably, no artist has taken more advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic musically than Missionary Jack, who is on the precipice of joining rap’s A-list and seemingly became America’s heartthrob overnight. Michael Saponara, Billboard, 6 May 2022 The verdicts infuriated and pained — and, ultimately, ignited — a Black community that already had a combustible relationship with law enforcement and was on the precipice of exploding. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 Finland and Sweden, two Nordic countries with deep histories of nonalignment, now appear on the precipice of joining the bloc. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2022 Her tears hang over the edges of her lashes; a single teardrop stays on its precipice for 15 seconds. New York Times, 12 Apr. 2022 Characters that had been sitting on the precipice of breakthroughs or the edge of breakdowns over the past seven episodes were pushed to conclusions. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2022 An image of a temple on a dramatic precipice has drawn the attention of people on Facebook. Chiara Vercellone, USA TODAY, 18 Feb. 2022 How did the world reach the precipice of what Biden has warned could be the biggest conflict in Europe since the Second World War? Robin Wright, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About precipice

Time Traveler for precipice

Time Traveler

The first known use of precipice was in 1613

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near precipice




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for precipice

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Precipice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for precipice


prec·​i·​pice | \ ˈpre-sə-pəs How to pronounce precipice (audio) \

Kids Definition of precipice

: a very steep side of a mountain or cliff

More from Merriam-Webster on precipice

Nglish: Translation of precipice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of precipice for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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