A sharp, steep drop — whether it's in a stock price, a roller coaster, or a star's popularity — could be described as a precipitous one. Put simply, precipitous means perilously steep.

Look closely and you'll spot most of the word precipice (a sheer, almost vertical cliff) in precipitous. Now imagine how you'd feel standing at the edge peering over, and you'll grasp the sense of impending danger that precipitous tends to imply. Precipitous declines in sales lead to bankruptcy. Precipitous mountainside hiking trails are not for the acrophobic. It can describe an ascent, but precipitous is most often used for things going literally or figuratively downhill.

Definitions of precipitous
  1. adjective
    extremely steep
    “the precipitous rapids of the upper river”
    “the precipitous hills of Chinese paintings”
    synonyms: abrupt, sharp
    having a sharp inclination
  2. adjective
    done with very great haste and without due deliberation
    synonyms: hasty, overhasty, precipitant, precipitate
    moving rapidly or performed quickly or in great haste
Word Family

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