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See also: Precious


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English precious, borrowed from Old French precios (valuable, costly, precious, beloved, also affected, finical), from Latin pretiōsus (of great value, costly, dear, precious), from pretium (value, price); see price.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɹɛʃ.əs/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛʃəs


precious (comparative more precious, superlative most precious)

  1. Of high value or worth.
    • 2013 August 16, Polly Toynbee, “Britain's booming birthrate”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 10, page 21:
      People are a good thing, the most precious resource in a rich economy, so the progressive-minded feel. Only misanthropists disagree or the dottier Malthusians who send green-ink tweets deploring any state assistance for child-rearing.
    The crown had many precious gemstones.   This building work needs site access, and tell the city council that I don't care about a few lorry tyre ruts across their precious grass verge.
  2. Regarded with love or tenderness.
    My precious daughter is to marry.
  3. (derogatory) Treated with too much reverence.
    He spent hours painting the eyes of the portrait, which his fellow artists regarded as a bit precious.
  4. (derogatory) Contrived to be cute or charming.
    • 2012 May 24, Nathan Rabin, “Film: Reviews: Men In Black 3”, in The Onion AV Club:
      In the abstract, Stuhlbarg’s twinkly-eyed sidekick suggests Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2 by way of late-period Robin Williams with an alien twist, but Stuhlbarg makes a character that easily could have come across as precious into a surprisingly palatable, even charming man.
  5. (colloquial) Thorough; utter.
    a precious rascal


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



precious (plural preciouses)

  1. Someone (or something) who is loved; a darling.
    • 1937, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
      “It isn't fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it's got in its nassty little pocketses?”
    • 1909, Mrs. Teignmouth Shore, The Pride of the Graftons (page 57)
      She sat down with the dogs in her lap. "I won't neglect you for any one, will I, my preciouses?"


precious (not comparable)

  1. Very; an intensifier.
    There is precious little we can do.
    precious few pictures of him exist

Usage notes[edit]

This adverb is chiefly used before few and little; usage with other adjectives (slight, small, scant) is much more sporadic, and is in any case limited to the semantic field of “little, small, scarce, few”.


Further reading[edit]

Further reading[edit]