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[per-uh-luh s] /ˈpɛr ə ləs/
involving or full of grave risk or peril; hazardous; dangerous:
a perilous voyage across the Atlantic in a small boat.
Origin of perilous
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French perillous < Latin perīculōsus. See peril, -ous
Related forms
perilously, adverb
perilousness, noun
nonperilous, adjective
nonperilously, adverb
unperilous, adjective
unperilously, adverb
safe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for perilously
  • He reinvigorated the nuclear arms race and on numerous occasions came perilously close to blowing up the world.
  • It perched perilously on the edge, and they nearly lost it.
  • And it perched perilously on the edge and they nearly lost it.
  • Instead, they're too busy watching the car's fuel supply, which is beginning to fall perilously low.
  • The reasons are multiple and complex, but the bottom line is that the state's world-renowned plumbing is now perilously stressed.
  • Waterfall pictures are moving perilously close to being clichés.
  • Thousands of books teetered perilously in his office, and a motion-sensitive door startled visitors with cricket chirps.
  • Our opportunity for a relatively smooth readjustment is perilously narrow.
  • The hundred-and-twenty-nine-dish menu is long enough to be paralyzing, and can be perilously unpredictable.
  • Collier comes perilously close to another statistical fallacy known as selection bias.
British Dictionary definitions for perilously


very hazardous or dangerous: a perilous journey
Derived Forms
perilously, adverb
perilousness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perilously



c.1300, from Old French perillos "perilous, dangerous" (Modern French périlleux) "dangerous, hazardous," from Latin periculosus "dangerous, hazardous," from periculum "a danger, attempt, risk" (see peril). Related: Perilously; perilousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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