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pre·​cious ˈpre-shəs How to pronounce precious (audio)
: of great value or high price
precious jewels
: highly esteemed or cherished
a precious friend
: excessively refined : affected entry 2
precious manners
: great, thoroughgoing
a precious scoundrel
preciousness noun


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: very, extremely
has precious little to say

Examples of precious in a Sentence

Adjective That so many of China's cleverest and most creative men and women had to sell their books and their most precious carvings and family seals to keep themselves alive, while corpulent nationalists and their friends dined well in local banquet halls, gave them some right to schadenfreude. Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China, 2008
Of course, the war pronounces on us all. Some precious glee we seek is absent, the season less substantial, less likeable. Richard Ford, Wall Street Journal, 14-15 June 2008
The world is, as usual, a frightening place to enter for all save the precious few impaired by inherited security. David Mamet, True and False, 1997
… and, though to him those precious moments at the end of each day had symbolized the realization of his every hope, to her they had meant not a goddamn thing. Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997
diamonds and other precious stones We can save precious time by taking this shortcut. They were able to be together for only a few precious hours. the family's most precious moments Adverb She had precious little to say. There are precious few hours of sunlight left. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Many websites that tout the sale of precious metals like silver rely on doomsday conspiracy theories of a global monetary collapse to convince people to hand over their cash. Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, 23 Sep. 2023 Between April and June of 2022, the couple cashed out at least part of their precious metal holdings, forms show, selling between $200,000 and $400,000 worth of gold bars, while keeping at least $250,000 worth. Compiled By Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 23 Sep. 2023 While the evening felt everlasting, our precious time in the museum started to fade as the delicious dessert course was served. Ian Malone, Vogue, 21 Sep. 2023 Despite what we’re taught, real fulfillment really comes only from making a life that is meaningful: from building precious relationships and forming connections, pursuing passions, discovering your purpose, building a sense of self and living with compassion—both for yourself and others. Alex Light, Glamour, 21 Sep. 2023 The families who have contributed to this booklet have shared the most precious of memories, thoughts, and feelings. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 But a generation of makers are now reimagining the craft, challenging conventions of scale and value by experimenting with everything from whole rocks to precious gems. Zoey Poll, New York Times, 15 Sep. 2023 Rising energy prices is stoking fears of the Fed rates remaining higher for longer and weighing on the precious metal, ANZ analysts say in a research note. WSJ, 20 Sep. 2023 Some of the precious stones found here include garnet, jasper, quartz, amethyst and agate, as well as diamonds in three colors: yellow, brown and white. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'precious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Adverb

Middle English, from Anglo-French precios, from Latin pretiosus, from pretium price — more at price entry 1

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1595, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of precious was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near precious

Cite this Entry

“Precious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: of great value or high price
diamonds and other precious stones
: greatly loved : dear
precious memories
preciously adverb
preciousness noun


Middle English precious "of great value," from early French precios (same meaning), from Latin pretiosus (same meaning), from pretium "price, money" — related to price

More from Merriam-Webster on precious

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