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precarious

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

Definition of precarious in English:

adjective

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.
Synonyms
uncertain, insecure, unpredictable, risky, parlous, hazardous, dangerous, unsafe;
unsettled, unstable, unsteady, shaky
informal dicey, chancy, iffy

Origin

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

More
  • 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.

Derivatives

precariously

1
adverb
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.

precariousness

2
noun
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.

Definition of precarious in:

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