Definition of precipice in US English:



  • A very steep rock face or cliff, especially a tall one.

    ‘we swerved toward the edge of the precipice’
    figurative ‘the country was teetering on the precipice of political anarchy’
    • ‘Get lost in the mist on a peak such as Tryfan and you can easily stray over the edge of a precipice.’
    • ‘We seem to teeter on the edge of the precipice, but get pulled back by the seat of our pants.’
    • ‘We, descendants of human suffering, are living in a fine mansion at the edge of a precipice.’
    • ‘We stand on the edge of a precipice, staring into the void.’
    • ‘That duty is even more urgent when the council is edging towards a financial precipice.’
    • ‘I had found sublimity and wonder in the dread heights and precipices, in the roaring torrents, and the wastes of ice and snow; but as yet, they had taught me nothing else.’
    • ‘She followed the sound of her voice until she suddenly found herself on the edge of a steep precipice.’
    • ‘But, after teetering at the edge of the precipice, he woke up one morning feeling miraculously restored.’
    • ‘If the two don't speak to each other, the world edges closer to the precipice of total war.’
    • ‘Living on the edge of precipices, it will raise skeletons high into the sky, dash them onto the rocks, and then extract the marrow with its curved beak.’
    • ‘There are also cliffs and precipices to be negotiated.’
    • ‘Fancy yourself in a car which you do not know how to steer and cannot stop, with an inexhaustible supply of petrol in the tank, rushing along at fifty miles an hour on an island strewn with rocks and bounded by cliff precipices!’
    • ‘I am standing on the edge of a precipice and ready to go over the edge - but there is nothing to catch my fall.’
    • ‘The route, almost continuous Z-bends on the edge of precipices, is one few drivers are willing to risk.’
    • ‘We stand upon the edge of a precipice, the fall from which we will not return.’
    • ‘The metaphors vary but the message is the same: the debt bubble is about to burst, we are on the edge of a debt precipice, we are addicted to debt.’
    • ‘It is too late to pull the rein when the horse is on the edge of the precipice.’
    • ‘A series of tragedies forced them to fight the three by-elections that brought them to the political precipice.’
    • ‘She once told me that, as a creative, you want to walk up to the edge of the precipice and look over, but make sure you don't fall off.’
    • ‘We were all financially scrambling on the edge of a precipice.’
    cliff face, steep cliff, rock face, sheer drop, cliff, crag, bluff, height, escarpment, scarp, escarp, scar
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Late 16th century (denoting a headlong fall): from French précipice or Latin praecipitium ‘abrupt descent’, from praeceps, praecip(it)- ‘steep, headlong’.