9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pri-sip-i-tuh s] /prɪˈsɪp ɪ təs/
of the nature of or characterized by precipices:
a precipitous wall of rock.
extremely or impassably steep:
precipitous mountain trails.
Origin of precipitous
obsolete French
1640-50; < obsolete French précipiteux; see precipitate, -ous
Related forms
precipitously, adverb
precipitousness, noun
unprecipitous, adjective
unprecipitously, adverb
unprecipitousness, noun
Can be confused
precipitate, precipitous.
2. abrupt, sheer, perpendicular.
1, 2. flat, level. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for precipitous
  • For three long weeks, nearly 200 cyclists barrel through spectacular scenery and make lung-bursting ascents of precipitous peaks.
  • There is only what seems to me a rather low protective barrier given the precipitous drop into the deep valleys below.
  • In reality at the end of every rainbow is a precipitous cliff edge and with hordes of lemmings skidding to an abrupt halt.
  • There is a precipitous drop-off where several terms appear less often with the chosen tags.
  • They soon quitted the little valley, and involved themselves among hills as steep as they could be without being precipitous.
  • Still attached to its chute, the H-bomb lay on a precipitous slope, five miles offshore and 2500 feet down.
  • He would rather just look around for himself -- and, with that, he backflips off a precipitous balcony and wings it.
  • The classical financial models used for most of this century predict that such precipitous events should never happen.
  • It is, medical experts say, a striking development in what has been a precipitous reversal of fortune for hormone therapy.
  • The series examined the reasons for Detroit's precipitous decline.
British Dictionary definitions for precipitous


resembling a precipice or characterized by precipices
very steep
hasty or precipitate
Derived Forms
precipitously, adverb
precipitousness, noun
Usage note
The use of precipitous to mean hasty is thought by some people to be incorrect
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 precipitous

1640s, "rash, headlong," from obsolete French precipiteux (16c.), from Vulgar Latin *praecipitosus, from praecipitare (see precipitation). Related: Precipitously; precipitousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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