pre·cip·i·tous | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-təs \

Definition of precipitous 

2a : very steep, perpendicular, or overhanging in rise or fall a precipitous slope

b : having precipitous sides a precipitous gorge

c : having a very steep ascent a precipitous street

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Other words from precipitous

precipitously adverb
precipitousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for precipitous

steep, abrupt, precipitous, sheer mean having an incline approaching the perpendicular. steep implies such sharpness of pitch that ascent or descent is very difficult. a steep hill a steep dive abrupt implies a sharper pitch and a sudden break in the level. a beach with an abrupt drop-off precipitous applies to an incline approaching the vertical. the river winds through a precipitous gorge sheer suggests an unbroken perpendicular expanse. sheer cliffs that daunted the climbers

Examples of precipitous in a Sentence

There has been a precipitous decline in home sales recently. People were shocked by his precipitous fall from political power.

Recent Examples on the Web

Since his election, however, Lopez Obrador has gone out of his way to strike a conciliatory tone and discourage speculation that his government would act in a precipitous manner. Patrick J. Mcdonnell,, "Mexico's Lopez Obrador taps longtime loyalist as nominee for top diplomat and invites Trump to inauguration," 6 July 2018 That aid, however, has waned in recent years with a precipitous drop in global oil prices, and the kingdom instead began seeking more and more loans from the international market. Washington Post, "Bahrain says Gulf neighbors will provide economic aid," 27 June 2018 Being ankle deep in mud, on a narrow trail traversing a precipitous hillside that was sloping down who-knew-how-far-or-where, and then trying to collect a specimen hidden just out of reach behind a tangle of greenery, would fray anyone’s nerves. The Economist, "Colombia’s national survey of its biodiversity is ambitious," 17 May 2018 The Nuggets reportedly agreed on Thursday to sign the 29-year-old Thomas to a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum, a deal that represents the fourth stage of a precipitous decline that saw his max-contract dreams evaporate in just 12 months. Ben Golliver,, "Grades: Isaiah Thomas Can Rejuvenate Career in Nuggets' Low-Risk Gamble," 13 July 2018 First, there was a precipitous spike around the election. Brian Levin, James J. Nolan, CBS News, "New data shows US hate crimes continued to rise in 2017," 26 June 2018 And what’s up with Deb, the third cha-cha babe, who’s losing parts of her mind at a precipitous rate? Beth Kephart,, "Frances Metzman's 'Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Bay': The rules of dancing, life, and rocking thongs in a retirement village," 6 July 2018 Koalas experienced a precipitous population decline about the same time that much of Australia's megafauna vanished more than 30,000 years ago. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, "Koala genome shows how the adorable marsupial lives on eucalyptus leaves," 2 July 2018 But since the 1990s, their numbers have been in precipitous decline, according to Kathy Parsons, the director of Mass Audubon’s Coastal Water Bird program. Billy Baker,, "The gull next door: Some Gloucester residents can’t stand all the seabirds," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precipitous.' 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 precipitous

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for precipitous

French précipiteux, from Middle French, from Latin precipitium precipice

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for precipitous

The first known use of precipitous was in 1612

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More Definitions for precipitous



English Language Learners Definition of precipitous

: very steep

: happening in a very quick and sudden way

: done too quickly and without enough thought or planning

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Comments on precipitous

What made you want to look up precipitous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an open space surrounded by woods

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