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 On the precipice without knowing it Americans can be forgiven for thinking that the battery recycling problem is a long ways away. Tamara Warren, Fortune, "Running on EV: The race to solve lithium-ion battery recycling before it’s too late," 28 Jan. 2020 In fact, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world was arguably perched most precariously on the precipice of nuclear war, the infamous minute hand didn’t move a bit. Rachel Feltman, Popular Science, "The Doomsday Clock is now closer to midnight than ever before," 23 Jan. 2020 Since the 2008 recession, agency managers have warned that budget formula no longer works, leaving them operating at the edge of a financial precipice. oregonlive, "Failing forestry: Oregon’s forestry department is on an unsustainable path," 20 Oct. 2019 The country now stands on the edge of a recession precipice. Frida Ghitis For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "America-first trade policy is crushing the global economy," 1 Sep. 2019 Decisions that seem innocent or mildly unsafe turn out to be life-changing, and the film’s protagonists are walking on the edge of a precipice without knowing it. Kenneth Turan, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: An affair ignites ‘The Reports on Sarah and Saleem’," 8 Aug. 2019 Decisions that seem innocent or mildly unsafe turn out to be life-changing, and the film’s protagonists are walking on the edge of a precipice without knowing it. Kenneth Turan,, "Review: An affair between a Palestinian man and Israeli woman ignites ‘The Reports on Sarah and Saleem’," 13 June 2019 Michael Bloomberg's campaign manager conceded President Trump was on the precipice of reelection, complimenting his team's 2020 strategy. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Bloomberg campaign manager predicts Trump 2020 reelection with different nominee," 21 Jan. 2020 The operation that took out General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, propelled the United States to the precipice of war with Iran and plunged the world into seven days of roiling uncertainty. New York Times, "Maps: How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated," 11 Jan. 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

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precipice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 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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