[pahr-luh s]


perilous; dangerous.
Obsolete. clever; shrewd.


to a large extent; greatly.

Origin of parlous

1350–1400; Middle English, variant of perlous, syncopated variant of perilous
Related formspar·lous·ly, adverbpar·lous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for parlous

Contemporary Examples of parlous

Historical Examples of parlous

  • You might find yourself in a parlous condition, Master Helstrop.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Yet reflect upon the parlous condition in which she found herself.

    The Shame of Motley

    Raphael Sabatini

  • Ruth wrung her hands in her dismay, confronted by a parlous choice.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Five or six years ago its affairs were in so parlous a state that 19s.

    The World in Chains

    John Mavrogordato

  • Fate had given Mayo and his associate an ideal crew for that parlous job.

British Dictionary definitions for parlous



dangerous or difficult


Derived Formsparlously, adverbparlousness, noun

Word Origin for parlous

C14 perlous, variant of perilous
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for parlous

late 14c., late Middle English contraction of perilous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper