Definition of precarious in English:



  • 1Not securely held or in position; dangerously likely to fall or collapse.

    ‘a precarious ladder’
    • ‘Execute this one correctly or risk putting your shoulders in a very precarious position.’
    • ‘By the time I returned, he was at the top of this precarious ladder cleaning windows.’
    • ‘Black vultures choose less precarious rocky perches on which to nest but join the lammergeiers on the thermals in their quest for food.’
    • ‘The other stocking waves shyly from its precarious perch atop a tilted lampshade.’
    • ‘Are you ready to catch yourself, to tumble safely out of a precarious position?’
    • ‘He closes his eyes tightly and tries to wrench himself out of his precarious position.’
    • ‘Adam looked skyward from his precarious position on a roof beam of the house he was building.’
    • ‘She watched in the rearview mirror as he fell from his precarious standing position on the trunk to crumple into the back seat.’
    • ‘Cyclists and drivers unperturbed by my precarious position skimmed past me in both directions.’
    • ‘But now they have gone out on such precarious limbs their positions are clearly untenable.’
    • ‘As I looked down from my precarious position next to a pile of honey on top of the Aga, I noticed two things.’
    • ‘Shooting out lights, opening and closing doors and leaping to precarious positions are all part of the game.’
    • ‘Her position seemed ever more precarious by the minute, and it was clear that I would have to rescue her.’
    • ‘In the distance small hamlets teetered on mountain ridges, seemingly ready to tumble off their precarious perch.’
    • ‘Since my perch on the social ladder was precarious, I had to make sure to watch my step and my mouth.’
    dangerous, hazardous, perilous, unsafe, risky, deceptive, unreliable, undependable, unstable
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    1. 1.1 Dependent on chance; uncertain.
      ‘he made a precarious living as a painter’
      • ‘As Finance Secretary I found that the finances of the state were in a precarious condition.’
      • ‘The situation is even more precarious this time around.’
      • ‘If that is where you are this morning, your position is very precarious.’
      • ‘After a somewhat precarious start, her husband had stable and prosperous business interests in Chicago.’
      • ‘In Hungary, there have been large and angry protests by farmers, whose livelihoods are becoming extremely precarious.’
      • ‘We learned about their precarious existence with nature and their love of the sea.’
      • ‘They managed to scrape a precarious living from the eggs laid by that one hen.’
      • ‘Do any professional publishers understand, one wonders, how precarious their position is?’
      • ‘Funding for professional athletes is based on medal winning, which seems precarious.’
      • ‘We can see clearly the essence of despotism and the precarious nature of democracy.’
      • ‘Yet, for all its parliamentary numbers, the government remains politically precarious.’
      • ‘You remember how precarious the company was after your father and grandfather died.’
      • ‘The divisions within Australian ruling circles are also being fuelled by the increasingly precarious position of the Australian economy.’
      • ‘But the amount of money they owe makes the situation more precarious than we are comfortable with.’
      • ‘Given how precarious this recovery has been, policymakers won't rush to hike rates.’
      • ‘With cruel irony, as livelihoods became increasingly precarious, population totals soared.’
      • ‘But today's results certainly emphasise the precarious state of the group's finances.’
      • ‘And the world was hanging in a very precarious balance.’
      • ‘It's a tiny blob of lava that previously housed a small community, making a precarious living from fishing, on its rocky slopes.’
      • ‘One would expect a bird living in the shadow of remote island volcanoes to lead a somewhat precarious existence.’
      uncertain, insecure, unreliable, unsure, unpredictable, undependable, risky, hazardous, dangerous, unsafe, hanging by a thread, hanging in the balance, perilous, treacherous, on a slippery slope, on thin ice, touch-and-go, built on sand, doubtful, dubious, delicate, tricky, problematic
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Mid 17th century: from Latin precarius ‘obtained by entreaty’ (from prex, prec- ‘prayer’) + -ous.