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 Although still a precipitous drop compared to last year's numbers, that is an improvement over April, when the number of fliers nationwide dipped into the 80,000 range. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, "TSA Rolls Out New Screening Rules Before the Summer Travel Season," 21 May 2020 To the contrary, researchers increasingly view the precipitous drop in emissions as a sign of how much work the world has to do to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Benjamin Storrow, Scientific American, "Global CO2 Emissions Saw Record Drop During Pandemic Lockdown," 20 May 2020 Hotels have shuttered around the country, but occupancy is starting to tick up again after a precipitous drop. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "Weighing whether to travel this summer during the coronavirus pandemic? What to consider," 20 May 2020 The precipitous drop came as people have drastically altered their purchase behavior. David Goldman, CNN, "Countries' massive debt piles are turning into a disaster," 17 May 2020 The precipitous drop in energy use is unparalleled back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Renewable power surges as pandemic scrambles global energy outlook, new report finds," 30 Apr. 2020 Prices have remained steady, though, after a precipitous drop over the last two months. John Steppe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gas prices remain steady in Wisconsin as coronavirus pandemic continues," 29 Apr. 2020 The urge to reopen the state comes as New York’s budget is under immense pressure: The state’s coffers are being drained by the cost of the outbreak — nearly $3 billion spent, at last report — and a precipitous fall in various types of tax revenue. Jesse Mckinley, New York Times, "Here’s Cuomo’s Plan for Reopening New York," 11 Apr. 2020 Another factor that might be contributing to the precipitous fall in small-cap shares: Those stocks are typically more difficult to trade than their large-cap peers. Karen Langley, WSJ, "Small-Caps ‘Eviscerated’ in Stock Market Rout," 25 Mar. 2020

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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precipitous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for precipitous


How to pronounce precipitous (audio)

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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