pre·​cip·​i·​tous | \ pri-ˈsi-pə-təs How to pronounce precipitous (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The new safety concern comes at a precipitous moment in the nation’s fight against COVID-19., 12 July 2021 Restrictions on travel have set tourist arrivals on a precipitous decline, down 94 percent in the first months of 2021. Washington Post, 12 July 2021 Following patterns from previous pandemics, the precipitous decline in new cases of Covid-19 started well before a meaningful number of people had been vaccinated. Robert M. Kaplan, STAT, 12 July 2021 The new safety concern comes at a precipitous moment in the nation’s fight against Covid-19. New York Times, 12 July 2021 The precipitous decline in working hours since then was made possible by productivity growth: The internal-combustion engine, electrification, and other advances meant that workers were able to get things done more quickly. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 17 June 2021 Most famous of all was the Marshall Plan, a $13 billion, four-year-long program designed by the Truman administration to combat Europe’s precipitous post-war economic decline. Aron Ravin, National Review, 16 June 2021 Meanwhile, the potential to engineer a precipitous decline in some meme stocks is making bearish wagers more tempting for some investors. Anna Hirtenstein, WSJ, 11 June 2021 Walensky noted that deaths and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 also continued their precipitous decline, crediting the 300 million-plus vaccination shots administered across the nation for the encouraging numbers. Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY, 8 June 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About precipitous

Time Traveler for precipitous

Time Traveler

The first known use of precipitous was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near precipitous




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for precipitous

Last Updated

27 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Precipitous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on precipitous

Nglish: Translation of precipitous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of precipitous for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!