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

Few schools have recorded more precipitous enrollment slides over the past decade. Dawn Rhodes,, "Illinois college enrollment for fall 2019: Illinois State, Eastern Illinois universities see big growth in freshman classes," 5 Sep. 2019 Two weeks ago, before a precipitous slide generated concerns about his gas tank and stained his Cy Young resume, Ryu would have slammed the door shut. Los Angeles Times, "Hyun-Jin Ryu runs into big problems again as Dodgers fall to Diamondbacks," 29 Aug. 2019 For Johnson, who recently suffered another setback involving a dog, the news that the Queen was prepping her beloved canines to eviscerate him was just the latest indication of his precipitous fall. Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, "Queen Trains Corgis to Attack Boris Johnson If He Ever Comes to Palace Again," 13 Sep. 2019 The 35-year-old Italian was the heavy favorite to win; after all, over the past year and a half, on-court struggles and health woes had led to a precipitous fall in the standings for Dimitrov, whose potential as a future world No. Van Sias, The Atlantic, "Grigor Dimitrov Takes His Shot," 6 Sep. 2019 That's a precipitous fall from sixth last year and eighth the year before. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ouch, the Brewers are now regarded as having baseball's worst farm system by Baseball America," 29 July 2019 A year later, though, with the advent of fracking, petroleum supplies went up and the price of fossil oil began a precipitous fall to $30 per barrel. Ruth Kassinger,, "How slime will save the world," 26 July 2019 Religious schools in the Northeast are among those that have seen the most precipitous drop in enrollment over the past decade. Deirdre Fernandes,, "Hellenic College Holy Cross at risk of losing accreditation," 7 Aug. 2019 This meteoric rise and precipitous drop, experts say, is largely due to the demise of Wow Air, the ultra-low-cost airline with all-purple planes based in Reykjavik. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, "Iceland's Tourism Numbers Are Dropping—And Wow Air Is to Blame," 2 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for precipitous

Last Updated

3 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for precipitous

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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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).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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