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precarious Syllabification: pre·car·i·ous
Pronunciation: /prəˈkerēəs/

Definition of precarious in English:


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.
2Dependent on chance; uncertain: she made a precarious living by writing
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, unpredictable, risky, parlous, hazardous, dangerous, unsafe;
unsettled, unstable, unsteady, shaky
informal dicey, chancy, iffy


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.



Pronunciation: /prəˈkerēəslē/
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.


Pronunciation: /prəˈkerēəsnəs/
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.

Words that rhyme with precarious

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

Definition of precarious in:

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Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: iˈnäkyo͞oəs
not harmful or offensive