Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms.


1. Of high cost or worth; valuable: precious jewels.
2. Highly esteemed; cherished: precious moments with the new baby.
3. Dear; beloved: a friend who is precious to me.
4. Affectedly dainty or overrefined: precious mannerisms.
5. Informal Thoroughgoing; unmitigated: a precious mess.
One who is dear or beloved; a darling.
Used as an intensive: "He had precious little right to complain" (James Agee).

[Middle English, from Old French precios, from Latin pretiōsus, from pretium, price; see per- in Indo-European roots.]

pre′cious·ly adv.
pre′cious·ness n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.preciously - extremely; "there is precious little time left"
intensifier, intensive - a modifier that has little meaning except to intensify the meaning it modifies; "`up' in `finished up' is an intensifier"; "`honestly' in `I honestly don't know' is an intensifier"
References in classic literature ?
He was, in short, in his after-dinner mood; more expanded and genial, and also more self-indulgent than the frigid and rigid temper of the morning; still he looked preciously grim, cushioning his massive head against the swelling back of his chair, and receiving the light of the fire on his granite-hewn features, and in his great, dark eyes; for he had great, dark eyes, and very fine eyes, too--not without a certain change in their depths sometimes, which, if it was not softness, reminded you, at least, of that feeling.
You would be preciously disappointed if he cried off, Agatha; for all your interesting reluctance.
Here I started up for I could not contain myself at the thought that the minutes and seconds so preciously laden with Mina's life and happiness were flying from us, since whilst we talked action was impossible.
All resistance had been rendered impossible to him by what was then called, in the style of the criminal chancellery, "the vehemence and firmness of the bonds" which means that the thongs and chains probably cut into his flesh; moreover, it is a tradition of jail and wardens, which has not been lost, and which the handcuffs still preciously preserve among us, a civilized, gentle, humane people (the galleys and the guillotine in parentheses).
East and I and five or six other fellows were at the fire, and preciously we stared, for he don't come in like that once a year, unless it is a wet day and there's a fight in the hall.
did that, sir,' said a great lubberly fellow, stepping forward; 'and preciously I cut my knuckle agin' his mouth.
Not that every personal letter needs to imitate the marvelously decorated notes we get from children, though I would think the popularity of Nick Bantock's wonderfully illustrated trilogy of the "extraordinary correspondence" of Griffin & Sabine (Chronicle Books, 1991) might indicate just how preciously even the crayon sketches of an adult would be received.
all of whom had preciously submitted separate proposals.
And yet, the debate on the National Information Infrastructure (NII), or the "information highway" that is raging today in boardrooms and Congress alike is a bit like this - everyone focussing on the highway and preciously little attention paid to just where the highway is to lead us, and whether we want to really get there in the first place
While there are preciously few new opportunities in the market for community antibacterials, Augmentin's continued success in the face of heavy generic competition illustrates that prolonging a brand's life beyond its patent expiration is well possible, particularly in Emerging Markets with their high brand loyalty.
Reyka, Iceland's preciously small-batched vodka and winner of 2011's IWSC Vodka Trophy, is intent on discovering inventive music talent motivated to play on the big stage.
But while theories and speculation are many, facts are preciously few.