Definition of parlous in US English:



humorous, archaic
  • Full of danger or uncertainty; precarious.

    ‘the parlous state of the economy’
    • ‘Finally, I want to talk quite seriously about the parlous state of politics in this House.’
    • ‘The railways emerged in a parlous state, in dire need of a major overhaul.’
    • ‘That is not a high level of income, but when one considers a number of other issues one finds that it is becoming even more difficult and parlous for people to live on it.’
    • ‘And how do you sap the energy of the insurgency when the parlous state of the economy keeps everyone desperately poor?’
    • ‘We come in day after day, lament the parlous state of the telecoms industry and resolve on a regular basis to get new means of employment.’
    bad, dire, dreadful, awful, terrible, appalling, frightful, grave, serious, desperate, precarious, uncertain, touch-and-go, difficult, unsafe, perilous, dangerous, risky
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  • Greatly or excessively.

    ‘she is parlous handsome’
    • ‘Is the state of American political fiction really so parlous perilous?’


Late Middle English: contraction of perilous.