Definition of perilous in English:


Line breaks: per¦il|ous
Pronunciation: /ˈpɛrɪləs


  • 1Full of danger or risk: a perilous journey south
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    • I thus embark on a perilous undertaking, knowing full well that I risk the wrath of both women and men.
    • But when the distances are longer and the borders tougher, the journeys become much more perilous.
    • The situation was extremely perilous and the patrol was in danger of being wiped out by the heavy crossfire.
    dangerous, fraught with danger, hazardous, risky, unsafe, treacherous; precarious, vulnerable, uncertain, insecure, critical, desperate, exposed, at risk, in jeopardy, in danger, touch-and-go; problematic, difficult
    informal hairy, dicey
    North American informal gnarly
    archaic or • humorous parlous
  • 1.1Exposed to imminent risk of disaster or ruin: the economy is in a perilous state
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    • The prospect of mass destruction made real the perilous state of western civilization.
    • His financial state is also said to be increasingly perilous.
    • We are appalled at the perilous state of the farming and fishing industries.



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  • These areas have perilously low stocks and many rivers are in imminent danger of losing their salmon forever.
  • They had come perilously close to scuttling their season.
  • There is a little school, though numbers are perilously low.


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  • A visual feast, it brilliantly captures the perilousness of being an animal, and an outsider, in a cruel bipedal world.
  • It's difficult to overstate the perilousness of the situation.
  • Their perilousness lies in their ordered destructiveness - it is a misuse on a vast scale of the human desire for order - and in the irrationality and incalculability of their pressure for the victory of the revolutionary new order.


Middle English: from Old French perillous, from Latin periculosus, from periculum 'danger' (see peril).

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