Definition of precarious in English:


Line breaks: pre¦car|ious
Pronunciation: /prɪˈkɛːrɪəs


  • 1Not securely held or in position; dangerously likely to fall or collapse: a precarious ladder
    More example sentences
    • She watched in the rearview mirror as he fell from his precarious standing position on the trunk to crumple into the back seat.
    • But now they have gone out on such precarious limbs their positions are clearly untenable.
    • Cyclists and drivers unperturbed by my precarious position skimmed past me in both directions.
  • 1.1Dependent on chance; uncertain: he made a precarious living as a painter
    More example sentences
    • It's a tiny blob of lava that previously housed a small community, making a precarious living from fishing, on its rocky slopes.
    • They managed to scrape a precarious living from the eggs laid by that one hen.
    • The situation is even more precarious this time around.
    uncertain, insecure, unreliable, unsure, unpredictable, undependable, risky, hazardous, dangerous, unsafe, hanging by a thread, hanging in the balance, perilous, treacherous, on a slippery slope, on thin ice, touch-and-go, built on sand, doubtful, dubious, delicate, tricky, problematic; unsettled, unstable, unsteady, shaky, rocky, wobbly
    informal dicey, chancy, hairy, iffy
    British informal dodgy
    archaic or • humorous parlous



More example sentences
  • What appears precariously dangerous is, in fact, a system that not only works but seems to run very smoothly.
  • The silence on the staircase was as heavy and dangerous as a precariously suspended anvil.
  • If you are brave enough, try the outdoor thrill rides perched precariously atop the tower.


More example sentences
  • The figures, one numb and the other glib, stand on an adjacent set of tracks, which underlines the precariousness of their happy moment.
  • In this second outing, the source material - the perils and precariousness of young love - is much the same.
  • I think there was a certainty of personal survival in the earlier poems, and so you worried about somebody else's precariousness or extinction.


mid 17th century: from Latin precarius 'obtained by entreaty' (from prex, prec- 'prayer') + -ous.

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