precarious

[pri-kair-ee-uhs]
adjective
1.
dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable; insecure: a precarious livelihood.
2.
dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.
3.
exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky: the precarious life of an underseas diver.
4.
having insufficient, little, or no foundation: a precarious assumption.

Origin:
1640–50; < Latin precārius obtained by entreaty or mere favor, hence uncertain. See prayer1

precariously, adverb
precariousness, noun
superprecarious, adjective
superprecariously, adverb
superprecariousness, noun
unprecarious, adjective
unprecariously, adverb
unprecariousness, noun


1. unsure, unsteady. See uncertain. 2. doubtful, dubious, unreliable, undependable. 3. hazardous. 4. groundless, baseless, unfounded.


1. secure. 2. reliable. 3. safe. 4. well-founded.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
precarious (prɪˈkɛərɪəs)
 
adj
1.  liable to failure or catastrophe; insecure; perilous
2.  archaic dependent on another's will
 
[C17: from Latin precārius obtained by begging (hence, dependent on another's will), from prexprayer1]
 
pre'cariously
 
adv
 
pre'cariousness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

precarious
1646, a legal word, "held through the favor of another," from L. precarius "obtained by asking or praying," from prex (gen. precis) "entreaty, prayer." Notion of "dependent on the will of another" led to sense "risky, dangerous, uncertain" (1687).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
And indeed, it hints at the precariousness of our mental stability, as well as
  the courage it takes to face the elements alone.
The rickety feel of century-old coasters meets the foot-dangling precariousness
  of inverted coasters.
The rickety feel of century-old coasters meets the foot- dangling
  precariousness of inverted coasters.
Qutb's sense of extreme moral precariousness comes to the fore in every
  encounter.
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