Definition of precious in English:



  • 1Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.

    ‘precious works of art’
    ‘my time's precious’
    • ‘I gasped in pain and let what little precious air I had left escape.’
    • ‘In fact, that's probably the most precious gift you can have.’
    • ‘An unpleasant manner can lose you precious business.’
    • ‘I must say, it's sad in light of how precious mutual affection and great relationships are.’
    • ‘One of the most beneficial meditations in Buddhism is to contemplate how fortunate we are to have this precious life.’
    • ‘In 1634, the desire to own the precious tulip was so great it directly affected the entire Dutch economy.’
    • ‘There are ways to change this practice and actually save precious resources over the long term.’
    • ‘You are precious in his sight, chosen and beloved from before time began.’
    • ‘The new thinking must be that human time is our most precious resource.’
    • ‘If we don't squander this precious space on parking, we could do all manner of interesting things on this site, which could be linked through foot and cycle tracks to the rest of Trowbridge.’
    • ‘The site borders the River Spey and residents are concerned that precious soakaway or catchment land will be removed, sending high waters flooding on to the new estates.’
    • ‘In this manner, not a precious square inch of area would be lost.’
    • ‘Language is a precious element of cinema because it is a privileged element of mankind.’
    • ‘This vitality is precious: through our behavior and life-style, we can either nourish or else dissipate it.’
    • ‘The democracy of manners is a precious achievement.’
    • ‘When photocopied, photographs become ephemeral and therefore less precious.’
    • ‘Along with the fund-raising came an even more critical search - a quest to find a contributor of something more precious than cash.’
    • ‘Inside the red box was a diamond necklace, engraved with several other precious gems.’
    • ‘Instead, there appears to be a headlong rush to commit precious resources in a manner that could lead to disappointment and waste.’
    • ‘Which just goes to show that even money cannot stop time, the most precious of all commodities.’
    valuable, costly, expensive, high-priced, dear
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    1. 1.1 Greatly loved or treasured by someone.
      ‘look after my daughter—she's very precious to me’
      • ‘It was a view of the village from our home and was very precious to me, but now it is just a charred frame hanging on the wall.’
      • ‘Then he loses a watch precious to his grandfather.’
      • ‘She could see the concerned look decorating her precious face.’
      • ‘I know we can't go around as if ‘walking on egg shells’, but it would be a move in the right direction to confirm to our partner that they are still very precious to us.’
      • ‘The results suggested a ragtag yard sale, but for the handwritten notes explaining why each object was so precious to the possessor.’
      • ‘AT THIS time of year the plants in our gardens are using every last drop of energy they've got to produce those last magnificent blooms that are so precious to gardeners.’
      • ‘She said: ‘He was so precious to me and the thought that I might lose him… all I could do was cry, sit and cry.’’
      • ‘That relationship was extremely precious to her.’
      • ‘I wanted to have something precious to love and care for; it wasn't simply enough to be loved anymore.’
      • ‘When Nancy and I dated, I protected her as I would a delicate and precious flower.’
      • ‘I will treat you with the utmost delicate care and concern, as if you were a precious flower.’
      • ‘How could anyone do this to his precious flower?’
      • ‘The further expansion of higher education in the 1960s made the prizes too precious to share.’
      • ‘The clothes he bought in America are precious to him.’
      • ‘Your eyes are precious to you… but they are only a ‘window’ for your soul.’
      • ‘As the two lovers watched their most precious treasure, they couldn't help but grow crestfallen.’
      • ‘Our most precious heritage, our English language, is also suffering.’
      • ‘‘They are playing with the communities that are precious to me and they're playing with my life as a worker,’ he said.’
      • ‘We were not rich, but we had a few bits of furniture and other treasures that were precious to us and we took as much as we could, including our piano.’
      • ‘But, to be downright honest I am scared of losing the four to five people who are absolutely precious to me now and I really do not want to even imagine what life would be like once they move on.’
      valued, cherished, treasured, prized, favourite, dear, dearest, beloved, darling, adored, loved, special, esteemed, worth its weight in gold, revered, venerated, hallowed
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    2. 1.2informal attributive Used for emphasis, often in an ironic context.
      ‘you and your precious schedule—you've got to lighten up!’
      ‘a precious lot you know about dogs!’
      • ‘I would like to offer my sincere apologies for wasting precious seconds of your life.’
      • ‘There may be precious little grace in these streets, but there's a precious lot of talent in these pages.’
      • ‘He tore it to shreds, leaving precious little of it intact.’
      • ‘Precious time can be saved if you get your mailing list in strict order.’
      • ‘I spent my time doing chores and praying, leaving precious little time for friendships.’
      damn, damned, blasted, blessed, flaming, confounded, rotten
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  • 2derogatory Affectedly concerned with elegant or refined behaviour, language, or manners.

    ‘his exaggerated, precious manner’
    • ‘It is the most elegant and precious business card in the world.’
    • ‘Nothing in the musical treatment is contrived, pretentious or remotely precious.’
    • ‘Forthrightness can override a too precious concern for complete accuracy.’
    • ‘Detailing is refined but never precious, allowing the house to feel at once substantial and robust, light and refined.’
    • ‘His art is refined but never precious, and the voice per se is simply ravishing.’
    affected, over-refined, artificial, studied, pretentious, chichi, flowery, mannered, contrived, effete
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  • Used as a term of address for a beloved person.

    ‘don't be frightened, my precious’
    • ‘However, I don't buy the mother's story that her little precious doesn't know what a pimp is.’
    • ‘I have also had far too many conversations about the perils of dropping the precious.’
    • ‘He attacks the Hobbits while they sleep in an effort to grab up the precious (the ring).’
    • ‘All this time Antonio had been searching for his stolen precious.’
    darling, dearest, love, beloved, loved one, sweetheart, sweet, precious, treasure
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  • precious little (or few)

    • Extremely little or few (used for emphasis)

      ‘police still know precious little about the dead man’
      ‘you'll find precious few attractions open outside the tourist season’
      • ‘In 80 minutes of solid endeavour, there was precious little grunt and grind.’
      • ‘Whatever the figure, it leaves precious little time to develop alternative sources.’
      • ‘What goes on in his mind - precious little, the evidence would suggest - is of little interest.’
      • ‘But, the room is large enough to be turned into a storage area, in a flat that has precious little of that in the first place.’
      • ‘The remedy for those of nervous disposition was a mundane first half which provided precious little of consequence.’
      • ‘Let's face it, there's precious little to watch here other than the coming and going and the doings of neighbours.’
      • ‘That leaves precious little time to settle in and be ready for the big end of year holiday when the whole country takes three to four weeks off.’
      • ‘There's precious little of my own life experience up on that screen.’
      • ‘When what was to become York's prime rugby league club was first founded it had precious little money and no permanent home.’
      • ‘Sports ministers of successive governments have done precious little to promote sports.’


Middle English: from Old French precios, from Latin pretiosus ‘of great value’, from pretium ‘price’.