Definition of precipitous in English:



  • 1Dangerously high or steep.

    ‘the precipitous cliffs of the North Atlantic coast’
    • ‘A bus took us to a precipitous cliff with a door at its base.’
    • ‘The topography of the actual route with its monuments and trails, its rivers and bridges, its steep hills and precipitous valleys, is meticulously represented.’
    • ‘The machinery of contemporary human reason thus turns out to be rooted in a biologically incremental progression while simultaneously existing on the far side of a precipitous cliff in cognitive-architectural space.’
    • ‘Facultative altitudinal movement is likely a particularly tractable option for birds breeding on the Sierra Nevada crest, owing to the precipitous elevation drop down the eastern escarpment.’
    • ‘With precipitous limestone cliffs, deeply shaded ravines, and clear rocky streams, the Driftless Area is a rugged landscape.’
    • ‘Lying just over 14 km off the extreme south-west coast, Eldey's precipitous cliffs rise to a height of nearly 80 metres.’
    • ‘Some trees were standing diagonally, with their entangled roots exposed on the precipitous rocky cliffs.’
    • ‘This was a lovely glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, calm and sunny, with the bold precipitous cliffs of Maria Island rising grandly in the distance.’
    • ‘Overlooking it are the residential streets that were carved from the precipitous slopes.’
    • ‘Our tiny bus wound up through the Inguri Valley whose precipitous road hugged cliffs and ravines, worming through crude tunnels and skirting thick forests.’
    • ‘Amazingly, all were dragged three kilometres up the precipitous slopes by manpower.’
    • ‘The monks' view from their cell windows was heart-stopping: a sheer drop down the precipitous wooded ravine sides to the valley floor 1,000 ft. below.’
    • ‘The view is mind-boggling, with a precipitous drop into the defile of the Lairig Ghru, the great pass that splits the Cairngorms, linking Aviemore and Braemar.’
    • ‘The section between Bonne Nuit and Bouley bays, though tough, is entirely on the cliff path and is stunningly beautiful, with the sound of waves crashing against precipitous cliffs and the relentless cries of seabirds.’
    • ‘Late in the afternoon, we drop anchor beneath the island's precipitous cliffs and, possessed by a powerful craving for a cold beer, row to the fish-stained docks.’
    • ‘Many follow the island's 1,365 miles of irrigation channels, called levadas, stretches of which run along steep slopes with precipitous drops to one side.’
    • ‘Their roots sometimes spread out over the path, and gained anchorage on the most precipitous slopes.’
    • ‘Along the coast, precipitous cliffs up to 1,400 feet high are interspersed with coves and bays leading into deep, V-shaped canyons.’
    • ‘It was near the edge of a precipitous drop into the valley.’
    • ‘Where the road ends, there is a precipitous staircase down the cliff, offering the occasional vertigo-inducing vista down the rock face to the turbulent Mediterranean.’
    steep, sheer, high, perpendicular, abrupt, sharp, dizzy, vertiginous, vertical, bluff
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    1. 1.1(of a change to a worse situation or condition) sudden and dramatic.
      ‘the end of the war led to a precipitous decline in exports’
      • ‘Sugar feeds the brain, and fluctuations in the level of this fuel can lead to precipitous changes in a child's mood.’
      • ‘Once again you said, ‘I don't know if we've ever seen a more precipitous drop in international stature and public opinion with regard to this country as we have in the last two years.’’
      • ‘The result is families under siege, war in the streets, the precipitous decline of the rule of law, the rapid rise of corruption, the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit.’
      • ‘The precipitous decrease in size and numbers of American alligators taken for trade reflected a species in decline.’
      • ‘He has taken a precipitous fall from being one of the game's top players.’
      • ‘The resulting precipitous decline in living standards has created conditions in which virtually everyone involved in the February 29 shooting can be described as a victim.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, he then experienced one of the most precipitous declines in major league history.’
      • ‘Since the 1960s we have witnessed a precipitous increase in the number of marriages ending in divorce.’
      • ‘The rebranding comes in the wake of a precipitous drop in tourist arrivals to what was once Asia's most popular vacation destination.’
      • ‘A small drop between 1982 and 1992, followed by a more precipitous drop over the past decade?’
      • ‘A precipitous drop in performance and a more rapid rate of fatigue often result.’
      • ‘The drop in such crimes would be dramatic, almost precipitous.’
      • ‘Lackluster economic growth and a precipitous fall in the stock market have hammered German banks.’
      • ‘Analysts were stunned by Far East's precipitous drop.’
      • ‘Our military history offers few such stunning examples of the spectacular rise, precipitous fall and dramatic vindication of a combat leader.’
      • ‘In the case of one ion, the all important carbonate ion, the decrease is precipitous.’
      • ‘The precipitous fall in the stock market has been one contributing factor to this reassessment.’
      • ‘What has caused the press' sudden and precipitous drop-off in confidence in the American public?’
      • ‘During the past two decades, Canadian participation in elections at all levels has undergone a precipitous slide.’
      • ‘In centers of Democratic strength, the drop-off in turnout was more precipitous still.’
      sudden, rapid, swift, abrupt, meteoric, headlong, speedy, quick, fast, hurried, breakneck, violent, precipitate, unexpected, without warning, unanticipated, unforeseen
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  • 2(of an action) done suddenly and without careful consideration.

    ‘precipitous intervention’
    • ‘If our foreign policies are rash, precipitous and not objectively thought out they will harm us domestically.’
    • ‘His speech highlighted the growing threat that his administration will launch a new, precipitous military adventure in the near future.’
    • ‘And I don't think we should be talking in terms of precipitous withdrawal.’
    • ‘A recognition of this epistemological complexity is itself sufficient to compel the thoughtful interpreter to avoid precipitous decisions.’
    reckless, impetuous, impulsive, hasty, overhasty, foolhardy, incautious, precipitate, premature, careless, heedless, thoughtless, imprudent, foolish, headstrong, adventurous, over-adventurous, hot-headed, daredevil, devil-may-care, overbold, audacious, indiscreet
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See precipitate


Mid 17th century: from obsolete French précipiteux, from Latin praeceps, praecip(it)- steep, headlong (see precipitate).