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

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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

For the first time in decades, drug-overdose deaths in the U.S. are on the precipice of declining, The Wall Street Journal says. STAT, "Pharmalittle: Judge appears to back push for opioid settlement; the CRISPR patent fight lives on," 26 June 2019 Four years later, this Warriors dynasty stands at the precipice of a fourth title in five years — a modern NBA record; tied with the Toronto Raptors 1-1 in the NBA Finals. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: Why the Warriors’ injury woes shouldn’t be (too) surprising," 4 June 2019 The book's ending leaves mortals trembling on the precipice of post-human greatness. Paul Di Filippo, Dallas News, "In Neal Stephenson's 'Fall,' there is life after death," 18 June 2019 That dynamic one-two pitching punch of Gilbert and Frisch helped lead Stillwater to the Class 4A state championship last year and and has the Ponies on the precipice of a repeat this year. Dane Mizutani, Twin Cities, "Pioneer Press baseball player of the year: Stillwater’s Drew Gilbert," 12 June 2019 But as the weeks have passed and the president’s defiance of the House of Representatives has escalated, all that’s clear is that, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in early May, the country is on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. Linda Greenhouse, The New York Review of Books, "The Impeachment Question," 30 May 2019 Her husband’s Facebook cover photo shows the couple smiling, with arms around each other standing at a Grand Canyon precipice. Jocelyn Gecker, The Seattle Times, "Indian couple who died in Yosemite took risks for photos," 31 Oct. 2018 Indeed, they were seemingly pulled back from the precipice by their hefty price tags alone. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Vogue Runway Did a Ten-Year Fashion Challenge: Check Out the Results Here," 30 Jan. 2019 We’re at the precipice of something really big happening, for us and for future generations. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "Charlize Theron on the Power of Being a Woman," 28 Nov. 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

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce precipice (audio) \

Kids Definition of precipice

: a very steep side of a mountain or cliff

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Comments on precipice

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