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

The company's precipitous decline in the streaming age has now reached its near-nadir: As of August, there will be only one operating Blockbuster store in the entire country. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "There's Only One Blockbuster Left in the United States," 13 July 2018 Photo: Jason Liske The modernist, 7,000-square-foot, three bedroom home of Kim and Robert Zielinski is built on a precipitous, 50% slope in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. Kris Frieswick, WSJ, "Luxury Living Off the Edge of a Mountain," 21 Nov. 2018 Cordesman warned that a precipitous exit from Syria could allow militants to regroup and launch attacks into western Iraq. Washington Post, "Even as Trump urges Syria exit, the military says it’s not finished with ISIS," 7 Apr. 2018 Two hours outside Beijing proper, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall affords views of the stone structure snaking over precipitous mountain ridges on the horizon. Mei Zhang, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to China," 5 Oct. 2016 But after this weekend, the country may undergo a more precipitous decline in democratic freedoms. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 But two developments in particular led to the precipitous drop, Alex Wellerstein, a nuclear historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology, told me. Alex Ward, Vox, "This is exactly how a nuclear war would kill you," 19 Oct. 2018 While the yuan has devalued by about 6.3% since the beginning of the year, Beijing has been fighting to keep the fall from being too precipitous. Bob Davis, WSJ, "Trump and Xi Plan to Meet Amid Trade Tension," 11 Oct. 2018 The departure marked a precipitous fall for Pruitt, who during his roughly 16 months in office took steps to reverse more than a dozen major Obama-era regulations and overhauled key elements of the agency’s approach to scientific research. Brady Dennis And Juliet Eilperin,, "Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns," 6 July 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

12 Dec 2018

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The first known use of precipitous was in 1612

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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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