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[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.
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 precipitously
  • The tops of the waves move faster than their bottoms do, which causes them to rise precipitously.
  • Even as electric vehicles gain traction with consumers, the price of solar panels is falling precipitously.
  • If the dollar devalues precipitously or inflation spikes, the purchasing power-or real value-of your savings will wither.
  • The magnitudes decline precipitously as you descend down the rank orders of the principle components.
  • Of course, my quality of life then dropped precipitously after shopping there a bit too frequently.
  • There are talented writers who grow into their full maturity and then decline, slowly or precipitously.
  • Hotel prices are typically high during winter and spring breaks but drop precipitously in the summer.
  • Opinion polls show public support for the government falling precipitously.
  • As overall capacity increases, however, prices transit providers can charge drop precipitously.
  • Markets were down in the aftermath of the filing, but not precipitously.
British Dictionary definitions for precipitously


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 precipitously



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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