prec·​i·​pice | \ˈpre-s(ə-)pəs \

Definition of precipice 

1 : a very steep or overhanging place

2 : a hazardous situation broadly : brink

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

The stacks look like small shrines to mountain solitude, carefully balanced at the edge of a precipice. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Kevin Hart tweeted himself out of a job hosting the Oscars," 8 Dec. 2018 Paying attention to neighborhoods on the precipice This move out of the city in search of opportunity is both a result and a cause of economic insecurity, according to Sampson. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How a ‘reverse Great Migration’ is reshaping U.S. cities," 31 July 2018 Newsletter Sign-up Related Few believe the economy, particularly in the U.S., is on the precipice of a recession. Akane Otani, WSJ, "Stock Market Whiplash Rattles Investors," 23 Oct. 2018 The fans are thoroughly dissatisfied with Grandal, who is having a postseason to forget — on the precipice of free agency, no less. Greg Beacham, The Seattle Times, "Grandal’s woes, quiet LA bats doom Dodgers in NLCS Game 3," 15 Oct. 2018 This is where The Dragon Prince begins: tensions between the factions are high, and the world is on the precipice of an all-out war. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "The Dragon Prince is influenced by Avatar: The Last Airbender in the best ways," 7 Sep. 2018 And the sense that this strange man is never more than an inch from the political precipice is not entirely the product of his critics’ wishful thinking. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "History Says Trump Has a Difficult But Traversable Path to Reelection," 19 Apr. 2018 In the space of just five minutes the Italian population went from the precipice of ecstasy, to the depths of melancholy., "World Cup Countdown: 12 Weeks to Go - Italy & West Germany's 'Game of the Century'," 1 Apr. 2018 But studies of crisis prevention, escalation management and my own research on secrecy suggest that adversaries have several ways of walking themselves back from the precipice. Austin Carson, Washington Post, "Russia and the U.S. just defused a potential crisis in Syria — and showed us how to back away from a war," 20 Feb. 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.

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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

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Statistics for precipice

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for precipice

The first known use of precipice was in 1613

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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

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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 make faulty or ineffective

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