This week’s “Word of the Week” is precipitous. According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, precipitous is an adjective that has two distinct meanings. Precipitous can mean “showing extreme or unwise haste.” Additionally, precipitous can mean “having the character of a precipice” or “very steep.” In other words, something that is precipitous rises or lowers quite sharply.
The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus further notes that precipitous is synonymous with “hasty” or “steep.” Something that is precipitous could be described as “acting or done with excessive or careless speed.” Alternatively, something that is precipitous could be described as “having an incline approaching the perpendicular.”
Below are some examples of sentences from recent news articles that use forms of the word precipitous. The adverbial form of precipitous is precipitously, and the noun form is precipitousness.
”On Thursday, Allen County Council members are expected to vote on rescinding a precipitous decision the council made last month to cut the salaries of 19 county judges and magistrates and to double the retirement contribution from sheriff’s deputies from 3 percent to 6 percent. The decision to make the cuts, which shocked department heads and some council members, came at the last minute and with too little discussion.” http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20111114/EDIT07/311149998/1021/EDIT
“A precipitous increase on US Treasury rates, for instance, depresses PE, as money moves from stocks to Treasuries [,w]hile a precipitous decrease in long-term rates pushes PE higher, as money moves out of US Treasuries into stocks.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2011/11/19/is-a-low-pe-a-false-buying-signal-for-us-stocks/
“Will he continue to post elite numbers or is a precipitous drop-off waiting up around the bend?” http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/hockey/fhl/story?page=inthecrease111122
“Several speakers expressed bemusement at the timing of the decision and how quickly it had come to pass. ‘Why take this precipitous action? It makes no sense,’ said Doug Tykeson, an emeritus member of the UO Foundation.” http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/27243262-57/lariviere-state-board-president-contract.html.csp
“Home prices in South Florida and across the nation fell in September, though the precipitous declines of the past few years appear to be over.” http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/business/realestate/housekeys/blog/2011/11/caseshiller_index_s_fla_home_p_1.html
“Given the company’s deteriorating performance over the last several years, coupled with the precipitous decline in its market capitalization and the troubled world economy, it always seemed to the APFA that the question was not whether the company would file for bankruptcy protection, but when.” http://aviationblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/11/apfa-president-chapter-11-fili.html
For more information on the word precipitous, please visit the following Web sites:
“Precipitous.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 11th Ed., 2004. Print.
“Precipitous.” The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus. 2005. Print.