Definition of risk in English:



  • 1A situation involving exposure to danger.

    ‘flouting the law was too much of a risk’
    [mass noun] ‘all outdoor activities carry an element of risk’
    • ‘They form part of a larger local discourse on problems, difficulties, dangers, and risks related to life in general.’
    • ‘The spread of the network form and its technologies clearly entails some new risks and dangers.’
    • ‘They don't want to raise risks of a devastating conflict with the mainland.’
    • ‘Farmworkers are also at higher risk of exposure to tuberculosis.’
    • ‘In the new age of heightened risks and tightened security, who will keep our airports safe?’
    • ‘Even though Eva knew of the dangers, the risks, and the lack of information about this man, she let herself be drawn into this strong embrace.’
    • ‘The workers are asking for compensation for mental stress arising from a possible risk of exposure to asbestos at the plant.’
    • ‘Dense vegetation may conceal the nests and reduce the risk of predation.’
    • ‘Regardless of how skilled she knew she was, the extreme risk and danger of what she was about to undertake wasn't lost on her.’
    • ‘They say it would do nothing to reduce the risk of wildfires but would degrade America's forests.’
    • ‘Holly had gotten as far as she had in this life by taking a lot of dangerous risks.’
    • ‘He was closest to the situation, knew the risks, knew what they could gain from such a crime, and knew what they stood to lose if they were discovered, which was very little.’
    • ‘So far, they had been lucky enough not to encounter the Sheriff and his party, but she knew the risks of letting one's guard down in a situation like this.’
    • ‘In the opening credit sequence we know nothing of the man, yet Bolt economically conveys that this is someone who takes risks and finds danger exhilarating.’
    • ‘Young farm children need to be limited in their exposure to risks; older youths must be trained and closely supervised.’
    • ‘They are well aware of their threat exposure and understand the risks associated with the systems in use.’
    • ‘Perhaps there is no real alternative and the approach may be to accept the risk and live with it at least the situation will have been considered.’
    possibility, chance, probability, likelihood, danger, peril, threat, menace, fear, prospect
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    1. 1.1[in singular]The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen.
      ‘reduce the risk of heart disease’
      [as modifier] ‘a high consumption of caffeine was suggested as a risk factor for loss of bone mass’
      • ‘Because I was having this child in my early forties, there was a slight risk factor.’
      • ‘The goal of a biosecurity plan is to reduce the risk of disease transmission.’
      • ‘Effective weed control and prevention of weed seed production in prior crops will reduce the risk of weed problems in wheat.’
      • ‘I mentioned I was worried about the risk of virus exposure.’
      • ‘Research does indicate that taking aspirin daily can reduce the risk of heart disease, but there are concerns.’
      • ‘Diabetes is also a huge risk factor for heart disease.’
      • ‘The trick is to reduce your risk of exposure regardless of the products or patches.’
      • ‘Travel across London was difficult and occasionally dangerous because of the risk of robbery.’
      • ‘With proper implementation, health programs can significantly reduce the risk of disease and economic loss.’
      • ‘Many trainers keep as much as they can to themselves, or share information only with their senior runners, to reduce the risk of a secret slipping out.’
      • ‘Taking the work personally involves considerable risks: exposure, rejection, embarrassment.’
      • ‘Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.’
      • ‘Folic acid helps prevent birth defects and may reduce the risk of heart disease.’
      • ‘Evidence suggests statins may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and slow the course of multiple sclerosis.’
      • ‘It is a cruel world, I suppose, but everything we do requires facing that danger and calculating the risk.’
      • ‘One day, individuals may be able to tailor their diet to their genetic constitution to reduce the risk of chronic disease.’
      • ‘Giving up smoking can reduce the risk of developing many smoking related illnesses.’
      • ‘Automobiles are not allowed in those zones to reduce the risk of car bombings.’
      • ‘Terrorism raises the risk factor, but we don't know by how much.’
      • ‘New flavors such as blueberry also claim to reduce the risk of certain diseases, while fermented dairy drinks are thought to aid digestion.’
      chance, uncertainty, unpredictability, precariousness, instability, insecurity, perilousness, riskiness, gamble, venture
      possibility, chance, probability, likelihood, danger, peril, threat, menace, fear, prospect
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    2. 1.2[usually in singular with adjective]A person or thing regarded as likely to turn out well or badly, as specified, in a particular context or respect.
      ‘Western banks regarded Romania as a good risk’
      • ‘Moreover, the puppies have not been socialized and tend to act in disturbing and aggressive ways, making them poor risks as pets.’
    3. 1.3[with adjective]A person or thing regarded as a threat or likely source of danger.
      ‘she's a security risk’
      ‘gloss paint can burn strongly and pose a fire risk’
      • ‘The oddest thing about them was that they carried a small, lit candle with them, despite the obvious fire risk.’
      • ‘There are many contaminants that can present a health risk if present in sufficient concentrations.’
      • ‘The company is to recall around 55,000 battery packs which are a fire risk.’
      • ‘At the time the group concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that mobile phone technologies posed a health risk.’
      • ‘Last week it pledged £7.4 million to examine whether mobile phones pose a health risk.’
      • ‘And those animals had too few worms to pose a public health risk, he says.’
      • ‘I need to continually update my suicide risk assessment for Sharon.’
      • ‘The committee also said there was no health risk from mobile phone masts.’
      • ‘The meltdown, and subsequent fire risk was actually caused by wear and tear on the power supply used in early models of the computer console’
      • ‘Fewer than one in three women received a health and safety risk assessment.’
      • ‘Other contaminants, while not a health risk, can make water less desirable for domestic use.’
      • ‘Health risks can be reduced by following all safety precautions and instructions provided on pesticide labels.’
      • ‘Existing mechanisms can assess risks to U.S. national security’
      • ‘I know that smoking implies certain health risks, which I am alerted to, now and again, by friends, strangers and the media.’
      • ‘If we concede that being overweight is a health risk and fatty food is a contributory factor, then the fast food pandemic requires attention.’
      • ‘The biggest health risk after an accident at a nuclear plant or a nuclear attack results from exposure to radioactive iodine.’
      • ‘Reactions to public health risk have brought about sweeping changes in the U.S. meat processing sector.’
      • ‘Why would the government ease restrictions on pollution that causes a serious health risk?’
      • ‘It also had to recall a batch of notebook batteries that were seen as a fire risk - 27,000 of them sold between June and October.’
      • ‘However, there is an obvious serious security risk involved in allowing students to take control of other computers.’
      danger, peril, jeopardy, hazard, threat, menace
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4A possibility of harm or damage against which something is insured.
      • ‘All insurers insist they underwrite risks, not certainties.’
      • ‘Insurance is designed to build portfolios of diversifiable risks and to hedge the systematic risk in these portfolios.’
      • ‘Other times it is simply an economic view of an industry or product where we insure or reinsure risks.’
      • ‘He assured farmers that they were able to underwrite risks of any size and type because it was financed by one of the largest insurance companies in the world.’
      • ‘The world may have entered an era of extraordinary discontinuity, but the only way to insure risks is still to model the hell out of everything.’
      • ‘An option is a type of insurance policy that foreign exchange traders use to hedge their risks.’
      • ‘"Most airline risks are insured in the London market.’
    5. 1.5The possibility of financial loss.
      [as modifier] ‘project finance is essentially an exercise in risk management’
      • ‘But the bigger financial risk is the hidden cost of doing nothing.’
      • ‘The management of financial risk is the most obvious dimension.’
      • ‘All private assets were perishing; perceptions of risks were sky-high as bankruptcies amongst the banks accelerated.’
      • ‘Evaluation of risk management systems was included in the assessment of submissions.’
      • ‘To limit these risks, the central bank wishes to supervise and regulate the participants of the payments system.’
      • ‘In terms of companies with the highest financial risk profile of those analysed, Greencore comes out on top when the three measures are taken together.’
      • ‘Evidence suggests that women are putting themselves at greater financial risk than men.’
      • ‘But it sounds like he has the best of both worlds: a good amount of control with very little financial risk.’
      • ‘Detailed measures of financial risk and return are provided in this chapter, characteristic of the empirical richness of the book.’
      • ‘Before you proceed, make sure that your investment is worth the risk.’
      • ‘Your property will also be inspected to ascertain whether it is a suitable lending risk for the financial institution.’
      • ‘These firms made millions from fraudulent transactions involving little if any financial risk.’
      • ‘The bank's strengths include its strong capital base and credit rating, and strong focus on risk management.’
      • ‘As with any investment, there are risks involved in buying mutual funds.’
      • ‘There may be severe credit risks in coming years by investors holding individual bonds, both taxable and tax free.’
      • ‘In order to achieve this, the bank is concentrating on streamlining treasury operations, foreign exchange dealing and risk management.’
      • ‘For most of us, the purchase of a new automobile carries with it a substantial financial risk.’
      • ‘Beyond the sheer financial risk, the firms are exposing their relationships and their reputations.’
      • ‘Each year a report is produced by the trustees of your pension scheme and every three years there is a valuation by actuaries, who analyse financial risk.’
      • ‘Diversifying your assets means putting your money into different kinds of holdings, such as shares, bonds and property, to reduce risks and possible losses.’


  • 1 Expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.

    ‘he risked his life to save his dog’
    • ‘In the risks, gambles and chances by which entrepreneurs risk their fortunes on new ventures, capitalism enters a new heroic phase.’
    • ‘But why risk his reputation as a scientist by perpetuating such a falsehood?’
    • ‘Few women will dare to risk their lives to enter such an occupation - but even fewer will be chosen to serve.’
    • ‘Kayna couldn't believe that her father would dare to risk his life again, after failing for two times in a row.’
    • ‘She'd just watched her mother die of pneumonia and her father was trapped inside a caved in mine and no one dared risk their lives to pull him out.’
    • ‘I wasn't going to risk my friends safety, plus Nick was getting scary.’
    • ‘I need to find a way to monitor the subjects without risking anybody's life.’
    • ‘Latin America became an ‘emerging market’, offering promising returns for anyone who dared to risk their money there.’
    • ‘No, I just couldn't believe that he was sentimental enough to risk his life for the vague chance of a new family member.’
    • ‘He was not only risking his career, but his life and others with what he was about to do.’
    • ‘I was afraid to risk you, and was worried you'd be in danger if she kept working for me.’
    • ‘Would be immigrants will risk everything for a chance of life in America.’
    • ‘Why assume anybody in a public spotlight would willingly risk their career?’
    • ‘Playing such a provocative character, she may have been risking her career and incurring the anger of her fans who expected the usual singing and light-footed girl-next-door.’
    • ‘If there was a chance that I could meet him again, then I was ready to risk anything, just for that single chance.’
    • ‘"What parent wouldn't risk their own life for their child's life?’
    • ‘Truthfully, I am scared, and though it may be foolish, I am willing to risk my life, for a chance.’
    • ‘By accepting the challenge, Casanova risks his life, his reputation and his chance to find true love.’
    • ‘She did not want a child of her own just yet; she was still in her prime and she did not want to risk her beautiful figure.’
    • ‘We can't risk everything on a chance that we're being spied on.’
    • ‘Then she remembered Justin, risking his life with little chance of winning.’
    endanger, put at risk, put in danger, expose to danger, put on the line, take a chance with, imperil, jeopardize, put in jeopardy, hazard, bet, wager, chance, venture
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Act or fail to act in such a way as to bring about the possibility of (an unpleasant or unwelcome event)
      ‘unless you're dealing with pure alcohol you're risking contamination from benzene’
      • ‘I risked death because I knew that I would be helping to ensure the future of our country.’
      • ‘Today he was too concerned for Mariah to risk an accident.’
      • ‘Businesses looking to save money by outsourcing customer service functions are risking losing customers and paying even more for the privilege.’
      • ‘They may be loyal to their duty, but they were not loyal enough to risk death.’
      • ‘I know you say that now, but we simply cannot risk another incident like this and have you lose your scholarship or even get suspended or expelled.’
      • ‘They can't raise taxes any more without risking uprisings among the peasants and Highlanders.’
      • ‘I want you in on it too, but I'm not risking you two getting separated.’
      • ‘He could have forced his way inside, but it might have hurt her, and he didn't want to risk that happening.’
      • ‘He's always pushing and risking failure: when he fails, he does so spectacularly; when he succeeds, he does so spectacularly.’
      • ‘My bet is nobody yet wants to risk the possibility of losing their subscribers to another such facility, through charging too much, or too early.’
      • ‘And I will not put you in the middle of it and risk you losing Samuel the same way I did Marie.’
      • ‘Entrepreneurs were seen as chancers, but the stigma of setting up a business and risking failure has lessened.’
      • ‘She had risked my father seriously injuring her in order to save me from his abuse.’
      • ‘Carden was their only child and they obviously could not risk him being killed.’
      • ‘It also reminds us that it takes courage sometimes to learn, to let go certain defences in order to try, to risk failure.’
      • ‘He didn't want to risk John finding out and getting Crystal into more trouble.’
      • ‘Well, I don't entirely know how to answer that without risking you panicking again.’
      • ‘She later explained that she didn't want to risk someone hitting her pretty little - and expensive - car.’
      • ‘She is a fool because she risks death for love.’
      • ‘He would not risk failure by behaving so foolishly.’
      result in, cause, bring on, bring about, call forth, give rise to, be the cause of, make happen, create, produce, occasion, effect, engender, generate, contribute to, be conducive to, add to, be instrumental in, have a hand in, have a part in, help, promote, advance
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Incur the chance of unfortunate consequences by engaging in (an action)
      ‘he was far too intelligent to risk attempting to deceive her’
      • ‘He risked a very hasty glance to the side where his father was standing.’
      • ‘We have a chance to clear you now, and I'm not risking it by having you there at the crime scene.’
      • ‘I risked a glance at her gaze and knew she wasn't buying it.’
      • ‘She didn't want to risk her parents hearing her come in this late.’
      • ‘She couldn't risk anyone seeing it and spreading new rumors.’
      chance, venture, take the risk of, stand a chance of
      View synonyms


  • at risk

    • Exposed to harm or danger.

      ‘23 million people in Africa are at risk from starvation’
      • ‘But there was no way to experiment because the baby would be put at risk.’
      • ‘He could have explained to the customers that their information was at risk, without revealing quite so much detail.’
      • ‘Many include rare or threatened habitats that are home to species at risk.’
      • ‘The outdoor chickens are more at risk of picking up infection from wild birds, other animals and the environment.’
      • ‘Exposure assessment identifies the population at risk and the likelihood of exposure to the hazard.’
      • ‘Children who use mobile phones are at risk of memory loss, sleeping disorders and other health problems.’
      • ‘The clinic acknowledges that very few women who have abortions there do so because their lives are at risk.’
      • ‘Rumours that the Bluetooth systems of cars are at risk from infection from mobile phone viruses have been debunked.’
      • ‘When animals migrate to mate and find food, they are at risk every time they need to cross a road.’
      • ‘The songs, some instrumental, some vaguely vocal, were never at risk of being lost in the din.’
      danger, peril, jeopardy, hazard, threat, menace
      View synonyms
  • at one's (own) risk

    • Used to indicate that if harm befalls a person or their possessions through their actions, it is their own responsibility.

      ‘they undertook the adventure at their own risk’
      • ‘Anyone who brings their children is doing so at their own risk.’
      • ‘Swimming in the sea is to be clearly done at one's own risk, as the currents are very strong in this part of the coast.’
      • ‘Further, any persons or institutions entering into any agreement with them should know that they are doing so at their own risk in that they may lose millions of money and credibility, of which the group shall not accept responsibility.’
      • ‘I'm aware that one is not supposed to send anything of value by courier and if one does do so, it's at one's own risk.’
      • ‘The patient, who comes from a Siberian village and was identified only by his first name, Sergei, paid over £1,000 towards the cost of the operation, which the doctors had warned was performed at his own risk.’
      • ‘We take no responsibility whatsoever if you want to try some of these ‘instructions'; do so at your own risk.’
      • ‘The bottom line: people who park their bikes outside during the winter do so at their own risk, and the city won't pay for any damages caused by public works operations..’
      • ‘Use of any of the information in this article is at your own risk, and readers under age 18 should have parental permission before attempting to modify any computer case and/or attempting to use power tools.’
      • ‘Signs were put up saying ‘Enter at your own risk!’’
      • ‘When I park in parking lots, there are often signs posted saying that the people who park there do so at their own risk and that the businesses are not responsible for accidents and theft.’
  • at the risk of doing something

    • Although there is the possibility of something unpleasant resulting.

      ‘at the risk of boring people to tears, I repeat the most important rule in painting’
      • ‘It's to their credit that they continue trying new things, even at the risk of alienating their fans.’
      • ‘And I know you think you'll be back with Josh by then, but, at the risk of having my head bitten off, I'm not so sure you will.’
      • ‘It was perhaps enough to have displaced one apparently corrupt set of politicians, even at the risk of introducing a new set hardly any better.’
      • ‘I wanted to scream, but at the risk of waking the house, I bit my lip.’
      • ‘So, I'm going to speak my peace at the risk of shocking a lot of people I respect.’
      • ‘And - at the risk of giving something away - the family curse is not really lifted.’
      • ‘And even if they had been willing to sacrifice even more, at the risk of jeopardizing their security for the sake of the alliance, there is no chance that this would have significantly changed the outcome of the battle.’
      • ‘His answers were complete and easy to understand and not once did I get the impression that he was loading his opinion in favour of one party at the risk of being unfaithful in his duty of impartiality to the tribunal.’
      • ‘But, at the risk of being cheesy, they are all good people.’
      • ‘And at the risk of getting my heart broken, I took the easy way out, that being breaking up with you.’
  • at risk to oneself (or something)

    • With the possibility of endangering oneself or something.

      ‘he visited prisons at considerable risk to his health’
      • ‘They are often intelligent and obedient, but are less suited to family life because their small size puts them at risk to the rough play of small children.’
      • ‘A parent, for example, will often defend its child against a dangerous enemy, at risk to the parent's life, when the parent could easily have made good its own escape by abandoning the child.’
      • ‘But even with their protected status and the watchful eye of tourism officials, they are at risk to poachers.’
      • ‘The groups, which have robustly campaigned against the danger of mobile phone masts and radiation waves near children and schools, may now be putting their children at risk to evil interferers.’
      • ‘And by modernizing our industrial base, it will save millions of jobs in manufacturing that are now at risk to foreign competition.’
      • ‘The solicitors expressed the view that Mr Lumley was at risk to himself and was vulnerable.’
      • ‘They were good people, but she couldn't expect them to lie for her at risk to themselves, and she didn't think less of them for it.’
      • ‘What does he know about the humiliation of checkpoints, or about people being forced to travel on gravel and mud roads, at risk to their lives, in order to get a woman in labour to a hospital?’
      • ‘Portable storage media, readily available internally and sent outside the protection of the data center, is inherently at risk to theft.’
      • ‘But manufacturers, eager for fourth-quarter sales growth at any cost, may swallow the difference even at risk to their profits.’
  • risk one's neck

    • Put one's life in danger.

      • ‘He only realizes what he has when she's risking her neck and showing she's a hell of a lot more adventurous and smart than he thought.’
      • ‘I risked my neck to save these peoples lives, and they were deserting me.’
      • ‘Now, since I risked my neck to come get you, you'd better come swimming.’
      • ‘Basically, why should I risk my neck for a few coins?’
      • ‘I do not know why I'm risking my neck and my position for this favor!’
      • ‘He risked his neck in speeding, overcrowded buses with bald tyres, he was shot at by bandits, robbed and spat at, obliged to sleep in malarial flop houses and insanitary trains and to wait interminably.’
      • ‘You risked your neck as much as we did tonight, and for two guys you'd never even met.’
      • ‘Following a period of mature reflection over Christmas, the man who said that the people of Ayr were his life and blood decided not to risk his neck by submitting himself for election before them.’
      • ‘A soldier risking his neck to keep the peace abroad should not have to worry about facing charges in a foreign court.’
      • ‘I risked my neck to try and get the book while he was busy hiding.’
  • run the risk (or run risks)

    • Expose oneself to the possibility of something unpleasant occurring.

      ‘she preferred not to run the risk of encountering his sister’
      • ‘If Canada continues on its present route it runs the risk of being viewed as hypocritical.’
      • ‘She was trapped, either stay outdoors and risk being caught by Kent, or stay with a man she hardly knew and run the risk of him possibly turning her over to the same man.’
      • ‘Nowadays, given the vastness of the subject, world histories by a single author run the risk of falling short.’
      • ‘The only reason she hasn't actually said anything is because she absolutely adores Christine and so she would never run the risk of running the risk of losing her.’
      • ‘Several U.S. anthropologists have observed recently that the discipline may be so detached from real world issues that it runs the risk of undermining itself.’
      • ‘I really believe that the role of the architect is changing, and unless the profession and its education change, architecture runs the risk of being marginalized.’
      • ‘To cover every possible historical topic is not only impossible, but runs the risk of turning the book into a social history of Europe between 1400 and 1600.’
      • ‘Sadly, when you try to be so many things at once, you run the risk of losing your audience with such a varied image.’
      • ‘In addition to this financial risk, the companies also ran the risk of over-signing acts and not having enough staff available to service and promote them properly.’
      • ‘I think everybody runs risks talking about Social Security.’


Mid 17th century: from French risque (noun), risquer (verb), from Italian risco danger and rischiare run into danger.