[presh-uh s]
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  1. of high price or great value; very valuable or costly: precious metals.
  2. highly esteemed for some spiritual, nonmaterial, or moral quality: precious memories.
  3. dear; beloved: a precious child.
  4. affectedly or excessively delicate, refined, or nice: precious manners.
  5. flagrant; gross: a precious fool.
  1. a dearly beloved person; darling.
  1. extremely; very: She wastes precious little time.

Origin of precious

1250–1300; Middle English preciose (< Old French precios) < Latin pretiōsus costly, valuable, equivalent to preti(um) price, value + -ōsus -ous
Related formspre·cious·ly, adverbpre·cious·ness, nounnon·pre·cious, adjectivenon·pre·cious·ly, adverbnon·pre·cious·ness, nounun·pre·cious, adjectiveun·pre·cious·ly, adverbun·pre·cious·ness, noun

Synonyms for precious

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1. See valuable. 3. darling, cherished. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for precious

Contemporary Examples of precious

Historical Examples of precious

British Dictionary definitions for precious


  1. beloved; dear; cherished
  2. very costly or valuable
  3. held in high esteem, esp in moral or spiritual matters
  4. very fastidious or affected, as in speech, manners, etc
  5. informal worthlessyou and your precious ideas!
  1. informal (intensifier)there's precious little left
Derived Formspreciously, adverbpreciousness, noun

Word Origin for precious

C13: from Old French precios, from Latin pretiōsus valuable, from pretium price, value
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 precious

mid-13c., from Old French precios "precious, costly, honorable, of great worth" (11c., Modern French précieux), from Latin pretiosus "costly, valuable," from pretium "value, worth, price" (see price (n.)). Meaning "over-refined" in English first recorded late 14c. In Johnson's day, it also had a secondary inverted sense of "worthless." Related: Preciously; preciousness.


"beloved or dear person or object," 1706, from precious (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper