1. Dangerously lacking in security or stability: a precarious posture; precarious footing on the ladder.
2. Subject to chance or unknown conditions: "His kingdom was still precarious; the Danes far from subdued" (Christopher Brooke).
3. Based on uncertain, unwarranted, or unproved premises: a precarious solution to a difficult problem.
4. Archaic Dependent on the will or favor of another.
[From Latin precārius, obtained by entreaty, uncertain, from precārī, to entreat; see PRAY.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.