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 However countries like Italy, France and America—where inequality has become corrosive and resentment drives a substantial part of politics—may not be too far from the precipice of social instability. The Economist, "The world after covid-19 Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo on how economies can rebound," 26 May 2020 This season has had to slowly, gently ease its way back from the precipice of season two: not kill its leads, not ruin the dynamic, somehow keep things interesting. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "'Killing Eve' Season 3 Walks a Familiar Road, But With New Hazards," 7 Apr. 2020 Art Thiel of SportsPressNW puts it this way: With the Ducks looming, the Huskies back away from the precipice. oregonlive, "Pac-12 parity? Oregon, Utah and Washington separate themselves at the top: Issues & Answers," 13 Oct. 2019 With millions out of work and millions more on the precipice, calls for a rent holiday are growing louder in the U.S. David Rovella,, "Your Evening Briefing," 10 May 2020 Together, humanity has stood on the precipice of many uncertainties caused by different unrelenting viruses. Alex Scimecca, Fortune, "Photo essay: How the world has overcome pandemics over the last century," 29 Apr. 2020 Many of these businesses — which together comprise the backbone of our economy — are on the precipice of insolvency. Andrew Taylor,, "GOP signals possible movement in business virus aid standoff," 17 Apr. 2020 Decision-makers had abdicated their responsibility to align means and ends, even as the world drifted toward the precipice of another horrific conflict. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's magazine, "The Old Normal," 2 Mar. 2020 As The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Molly Young reported, the bankruptcy case is virtually unprecedented in its scale, and the path toward the financial precipice may lead back to those two Oregon rulings a decade ago. oregonlive, "How 2 Oregon lawsuits a decade ago led to the Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy: Beat Check podcast," 24 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for precipice

Time Traveler

The first known use of precipice was in 1613

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Statistics for precipice

Last Updated

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precipice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for precipice


How to pronounce precipice (audio)

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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