- dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable; insecure: a precarious livelihood.
- dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.
- exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky: the precarious life of an underseas diver.
- having insufficient, little, or no foundation: a precarious assumption.
Origin of precarious
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for precariousness
The cops rightly sensed the precariousness of the situation.The Black and White Men Who Saved Martin Luther King’s Life
January 20, 2014
In doing so, it highlights the precariousness of sudden surges.Can Santorum Really Challenge Romney?
February 14, 2012
A flash of lightning revealed the precariousness of the situation.Prairie Flowers
James B. Hendryx
If I needed anything to perfect the precariousness of my steering, it was just that.What Is Man? And Other Stories
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
He was supremely conscious of the precariousness of his situation.When God Laughs and Other Stories
Consider for a moment the precariousness of the life of an insect!Jungle Folk
He felt, with a sense of great weakness, the precariousness of his job.Turns about Town
Robert Cortes Holliday
- liable to failure or catastrophe; insecure; perilous
- archaic dependent on another's will
Word Origin and History for precariousness
1640s, a legal word, "held through the favor of another," from Latin precarius "obtained by asking or praying," from prex (genitive precis) "entreaty, prayer" (see pray). Notion of "dependent on the will of another" led to extended sense "risky, dangerous, uncertain" (1680s). "No word is more unskillfully used than this with its derivatives. It is used for uncertain in all its senses; but it only means uncertain, as dependent on others ..." [Johnson]. Related: Precariously; precariousness.