Definition of precarious in English:

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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



Pronunciation: /prɪˈkɛːrɪəsnəs/
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.

  • This is from Latin precarius ‘obtained by entreaty’, from prex, prec- ‘prayer’. The notion is one of something being dependent on the good grace of somebody else (needing entreaty), and therefore uncertain. Prayer (Middle English) is from the same word.

Words that rhyme with precarious

Aquarius, calcareous, Darius, denarius, gregarious, hilarious, multifarious, nefarious, omnifarious, Sagittarius, senarius, Stradivarius, temerarious, various, vicarious

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre¦car|ious

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