[ pri-kair-ee-uhs ]
See synonyms for precarious on
  1. dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; insecure: a precarious livelihood.

  2. dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.

  1. exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky: the precarious life of an underseas diver.

  2. having insufficient, little, or no foundation: a precarious assumption.

Origin of precarious

First recorded in 1640–50; from Latin precārius “obtained by entreaty; given as a favor; borrowed; uncertain”; see also prayer1

synonym study For precarious

1. See uncertain.

Other words for precarious

Opposites for precarious

Other words from precarious

  • pre·car·i·ous·ly, adverb
  • pre·car·i·ous·ness, noun
  • su·per·pre·car·i·ous, adjective
  • su·per·pre·car·i·ous·ness, noun
  • un·pre·car·i·ous, adjective
  • un·pre·car·i·ous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use precarious in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for precarious


/ (prɪˈkɛərɪəs) /

  1. liable to failure or catastrophe; insecure; perilous

  2. archaic dependent on another's will

Origin of precarious

C17: from Latin precārius obtained by begging (hence, dependent on another's will), from prex prayer 1

Derived forms of precarious

  • precariously, adverb
  • precariousness, noun

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