Definition of precious in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprɛʃəs/


1Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly: precious works of art my time’s precious
More example sentences
  • One of the most beneficial meditations in Buddhism is to contemplate how fortunate we are to have this precious life.
  • The democracy of manners is a precious achievement.
  • An unpleasant manner can lose you precious business.
valuable, costly, expensive, high-priced, dear;
invaluable, priceless, beyond price, of incalculable value/worth;
rare, choice, fine, exquisite, irreplaceable, inestimable
1.1Greatly loved or treasured by someone: look after my daughter—she’s very precious to me
More example sentences
  • We were not rich, but we had a few bits of furniture and other treasures that were precious to us and we took as much as we could, including our piano.
  • I wanted to have something precious to love and care for; it wasn't simply enough to be loved anymore.
  • The results suggested a ragtag yard sale, but for the handwritten notes explaining why each object was so precious to the possessor.
valued, cherished, treasured, prized, favourite, dear, dearest, beloved, darling, adored, loved, special, esteemed, worth its weight in gold, revered, venerated, hallowed
1.2 [attributive] informal Used for emphasis, often in an ironic context: you and your precious schedule—you’ve got to lighten up! a precious lot you know about dogs!
More example sentences
  • There may be precious little grace in these streets, but there's a precious lot of talent in these pages.
  • I spent my time doing chores and praying, leaving precious little time for friendships.
  • He tore it to shreds, leaving precious little of it intact.
2 derogatory Affectedly concerned with elegant or refined behaviour, language, or manners: his exaggerated, precious manner
More example sentences
  • It is the most elegant and precious business card in the world.
  • Detailing is refined but never precious, allowing the house to feel at once substantial and robust, light and refined.
  • Forthrightness can override a too precious concern for complete accuracy.
affected, over-refined, artificial, studied, pretentious, chichi, flowery, mannered, contrived, effete
informal twee, la-di-da, fancy-pants
British informal poncey
rare alembicated


Used as a term of address for a beloved person: don’t be frightened, my precious
More example sentences
  • However, I don't buy the mother's story that her little precious doesn't know what a pimp is.
  • All this time Antonio had been searching for his stolen precious.
  • I have also had far too many conversations about the perils of dropping the precious.


precious little (or few)

Extremely little or few (used for emphasis): police still know precious little about the dead man
More example sentences
  • But, the room is large enough to be turned into a storage area, in a flat that has precious little of that in the first place.
  • Sports ministers of successive governments have done precious little to promote sports.
  • When what was to become York's prime rugby league club was first founded it had precious little money and no permanent home.



Pronunciation: /ˈprɛʃəsli/
Example sentences
  • It reprints newspaper classics from the early 20th century, at their original size, every watercolour nuance preciously preserved.
  • Countries like Poland got preciously little tangible benefits for their involvement, be it by way of commercial contracts, military assistance, or abolishing visa restrictions for Polish visitors.
  • To my mind there is something in the up-for-it, let-your-hair-down, what-the-hell British pub culture that enshrines something seriously free, something preciously liberal in overall British culture.


Pronunciation: /ˈprɛʃəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • The large show (more than 40 artists, though not all the work is displayed) presents a flock of sexy, edgy, beautifully painted dolls, not one of which sinks into preciousness.
  • The project, which was intended as an experiment and a comment on notions of preciousness, greed and consumer society, was hyped as a ‘treasure hunt’ for ‘golden garbage’.
  • Above that the ubiquitous black square negates the image like some dark doppelgänger, a reminder of the eventual death of the picture on its obverse, constantly reinscribing the preciousness of this unique object.


Middle English: from Old French precios, from Latin pretiosus 'of great value', from pretium 'price'.

  • price from Middle English:

    The medieval word pris, which was from Old French, meant not only ‘price’ but also ‘prize’ and ‘praise’. Over time these three meanings split into three different words. Pris became price, and the meaning ‘praise’ started to be spelled preise and then praise. Originally simply an alternative way of spelling price, prize too became a separate word. The Latin original of the French was pretiem ‘price’ which also lies behind appreciate (mid 18th century), and the related appraise (mid 16th century) and apprize (mid 16th century), all with the basic sense of ‘set a price to’; depreciate (mid 17th century); and precious (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with precious


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre|cious

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