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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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Many of you gave up your precious time to make phone calls and knock on doors. Mabinty Quarshie, Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 19 June 2024 Other methods of laundering the gains included buying precious metal and gems and taking them to Mexico for sale. Byamanda Gerut, Fortune, 19 June 2024 That figure is exasperated by an ongoing paramedic shortage in Santa Clara county that at times forces firefighters to spend precious time waiting for ambulances when responding to a call, city staff said. Luis Melecio-Zambrano, The Mercury News, 18 June 2024 Love life, kindness and precious time be with us all. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 18 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for precious 

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 22 Jun. 2024.

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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