- She followed the sound of her voice until she suddenly found herself on the edge of a steep precipice.
- Fancy yourself in a car which you do not know how to steer and cannot stop, with an inexhaustible supply of petrol in the tank, rushing along at fifty miles an hour on an island strewn with rocks and bounded by cliff precipices!
- There are also cliffs and precipices to be negotiated.
Late 16th century (denoting a headlong fall): from French précipice or Latin praecipitium 'abrupt descent', from praeceps, praecip(it)- 'steep, headlong'.
The original meaning of precipice was ‘a headlong fall’. It was not long, though, before precipice was being used in its modern sense, describing a steep cliff or mountainside. The ultimate source is Latin praeceps ‘steep or headlong’, also the origin of precipitation (early 17th century) which originally meant the action of falling or throwing down, rather than rainfall or snow.
For editors and proofreaders
Line breaks: preci|pice
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