[ pres-uh-pis ]
/ ˈprɛs ə pɪs /


a cliff with a vertical, nearly vertical, or overhanging face.
a situation of great peril: on the precipice of war.

Origin of precipice

1590–1600; < Middle French < Latin praecipitium steep place, equivalent to praecipit- (stem of praeceps) steep, headlong (prae- pre- + -cipit-, combining form of caput head; see caput) + -ium -ium
Related formsprec·i·piced, adjectiveun·prec·i·piced, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for precipice

British Dictionary definitions for precipice


/ (ˈprɛsɪpɪs) /


  1. the steep sheer face of a cliff or crag
  2. the cliff or crag itself
a precarious situation
Derived Formsprecipiced, adjective

Word Origin for precipice

C16: from Latin praecipitium steep place, from praeceps headlong
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 precipice



"steep face of rock," 1630s, from Middle French précipice, from Latin praecipitium "a steep place," literally "a fall or leap," from praeceps (genitive praecipitis) "steep, headlong, headfirst," from prae "before, forth" (see pre-) + caput "head" (see head (n.)). Earlier in English as a verb (1590s) meaning "fall to great depth."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper