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

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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 Hennepin County Public Defender Jay Wong, who started studying traffic data after the police killing of George Floyd last year, said the pandemic has led to a precipitous drop in traffic stops in the city. Andy Mannix, Star Tribune, "After Daunte Wright's killing, criticism of 'pretextual' traffic stops grows," 17 Apr. 2021 Weeks after the governor’s contradictory behavior made national headlines, recall signatures had rapidly increased and his voter approval rating took a precipitous drop. Taryn Luna, Los Angeles Times, "Newsom’s plan to reopen California may be less risky than it seems," 9 Apr. 2021 And the National Republican Senatorial Committee, under Florida Sen. Rick Scott, had one of its healthiest Februarys in years, bringing in $6.4 million—despite a precipitous drop in corporate PAC donations. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Best Tonic for Restoring the GOP: Overreaching Democrats," 8 Apr. 2021 The change coincides with a precipitous drop in sea ice cover around the same time. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Study of Narwhal Tusks Reveals a Swiftly Changing Arctic," 5 Apr. 2021 The lake had begun a long-term precipitous drop in 2011, shrinking to less than 3 percent of its capacity in 2014, before storms in the region broke a near-record drought in 2015, allowing a return of boating and fishing. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, "Watering restrictions in place before summer even begins as drought conditions worsen," 5 Apr. 2021 Masks aren’t solely responsible for that precipitous drop. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Should We Keep Wearing Masks Even After the Pandemic Ends?," 2 Apr. 2021 In countries whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism, the precipitous drop in visitors was, and remains, devastating. New York Times, "How Bad Was 2020 for Tourism? Look at the Numbers.," 8 Mar. 2021 Outlier states such as Michigan that have been experiencing a precipitous increase in COVID-19 totals have been a cause for alarm for the White House and prominent medical authorities. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "New Hampshire lifts mask mandate," 16 Apr. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for precipitous

Time Traveler

The first known use of precipitous was in 1612

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Statistics for precipitous

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Precipitous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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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