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 The divergent fortunes of C.E.O.s and everyday workers illustrate the sharp divides in a nation on the precipice of an economic boom but still racked by steep income inequality. New York Times, "C.E.O. Pay Remains Stratospheric, Even at Companies Battered by Pandemic," 24 Apr. 2021 Both Stratasys and 3D Systems are trading at fractions of their highs in 2013 and 2014, the last time the industry seemed on the precipice of a big bang. Laura Forman, WSJ, "3-D Printing Stocks Are Still Running on Hype," 23 Apr. 2021 And 13-months removed from the call his mother made to police at the precipice of the pandemic, Hole used his two assault weapons to kill eight people and himself at a FedEx facility on Indianapolis’ southwest side. Justin L. Mack, The Indianapolis Star, "Indiana's red flag law didn't stop Brandon Scott Hole from killing 8 people," 18 Apr. 2021 Because right now, the confidence for COVID vaccines is right at the precipice. Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News, "CDC panel calls to keep J&J vaccine pause in place, collect more data," 14 Apr. 2021 Health officials say Peru is on the precipice, with only 84 intensive care beds left at the end of March. Washington Post, "Brazil has become South America’s superspreader event," 5 Apr. 2021 So that revival of Wooden excellence ended, perhaps at the precipice of success. Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Mick Cronin is leading UCLA’s return to national prominence," 5 Apr. 2021 Both films are pleas to take nature seriously from the perspective of a world on the precipice of its own extinction. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, "‘Gunda’: An Intimate Portrait of a Sow’s Life," 17 Apr. 2021 Amid the backdrop of the Federal Reserve committing to low interest rates, investors have been scouring for returns, and many have found them in high-growth startups on the precipice of entering the public markets. Forbes, "State Of VC 2021: The Persistence And Future Promise Of Venture Capital Through A Global Pandemic," 16 Apr. 2021

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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Precipice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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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