precarious

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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Latin precārius (begged for, obtained by entreaty), from prex, precis (prayer). Compare French précaire, Portuguese precário, and Spanish and Italian precario.

Adjective[edit]

precarious (comparative more precarious, superlative most precarious)

  1. (comparable) Dangerously insecure or unstable; perilous.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      One morning I had been driven to the precarious refuge afforded by the steps of the inn, after rejecting offers from the Celebrity to join him in a variety of amusements. But even here I was not free from interruption, for he was seated on a horse-block below me, playing with a fox terrier.
  2. (law) Depending on the intention of another.
Usage notes[edit]

Because the pre- element of precarious derives from prex and not the preposition prae, this term cannot — etymologically speaking — be written as *præcarious.

Quotations[edit]
  • 1906, Jack London, White Fang, part I, ch III,
    Never had he been so fond of this body of his as now when his tenure of it was so precarious.
Synonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

pre- + carious

Adjective[edit]

precarious (not comparable)

  1. (dentistry) Relating to incipient caries.