- 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- dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.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 for precarious on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for precariously
On the right side of the fall line, but precariously close to the precipice.Two Chickens, an Old Guitar, and a Group of Strangers: A Life-Changing Feast in Brazil
November 29, 2013
Those women who are not alone are often only precariously coupled.Was Helen Gurley Brown A Feminist?
August 14, 2012
They're high, but not precariously so, and are being shown with thin black socks.Backstage at Vera Wang
September 14, 2010
Vine vigorous, precariously hardy, lacking in productiveness.Manual of American Grape-Growing
U. P. Hedrick
It seemed to him he remained there precariously alone with the stanchion for a long, long time.Typhoon
He labours to bear in mind, how undeservedly they are often bestowed, how precariously they are always possessed.
He was the son of Amoz, who has been (much too precariously) identified with a brother of Amaziah.The Expositor's Bible
F. W. Farrar
It then appeared how precariously it had stood for many years.The Book of Curiosities
- liable to failure or catastrophe; insecure; perilous
- archaic dependent on another's will
Word Origin and History for precariously
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.