Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An overhanging or extremely steep mass of rock, such as a crag or the face of a cliff.
  • n. The brink of a dangerous or disastrous situation: on the precipice of defeat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A very steep cliff.
  • n. The brink of a dangerous situation.
  • n. A headlong fall or descent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sudden or headlong fall.
  • n. A headlong steep; a very steep, perpendicular, or overhanging place; an abrupt declivity; a cliff.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A headlong fall; an abrupt descent.
  • n. A bank or cliff extremely steep, or even perpendicular or overhanging; a headlong declivity.
  • n. The brink of a steep declivity; hence, a dangerous place; a critical position; a perilous location.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a very steep cliff

Etymologies

French précipice, from Latin praecipitium, from praeceps, praecipit-, headlong; see precipitate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in 1598, from Latin *praecipitium ("a steep place"), from praeceps ("steep"), from prae + caput ("head"). First meaning of the noun is recorded from 1632. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • So, yes, do I continue to oppose it and I do think the term precipice was a good choice of words, John.

    CNN Transcript Dec 15, 2009

  • The sound of a stone thrown over the precipice is heard for several li.

    Fir-Flower Tablets: Poems Translated From the Chinese

  • The word precipice is defined as a very steep, overhanging place or a hazardous situation.

    News for Opelika-Auburn News

  • That was precisely what happened in the U.K. at the start of the last decade, with marketing literature on what came to be known as "precipice bonds" underemphasizing the three-for-one losses on some plans, and resulting in millions of pounds of redress being ordered by the Financial Services Authority.

    The Structured Promise

  • In reality, the conferees knew the only country that had an industrial base capable of pulling the world back from the precipice was the United States.

    Vince Farrell: Bretton Woods II

  • On this account I will call the precipice the Cliff without a

    A Pair of Blue Eyes

  • Acknowledging the fact that we are waltzing along a precipice is the first move in taking steps away from the edge.

    Why so much about Peak Oil?

  • To Holly, it looked as if the precipice was a straight fall, without so much as an angle to cushion the horse beneath them.

    SEASONS OF GOLD

  • Marocco of several thousands, by taking a judicious position at the southern extremity of this narrow path and tremendous precipice, which is but a few yards in length.

    An Account of Timbuctoo and Housa Territories in the Interior of Africa

  • Along the foot of the precipice was a row of unsightly and unsubstantial buildings, where the scant population lived, carried on their few handicrafts, and stored their winter provisions.

    The Land We Live In The Story of Our Country

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.