Here is the definition to start;
1. dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable; insecure: a precarious livelihood.
2. dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.
3. exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky: the precarious life of an underseas diver.
4. having insufficient, little, or no foundation: a precarious assumption.
And now a short history. The word precarious - as defined above - is often meant to mean 'rickety' or some kind of physical instability. Interestingly enough this isn't what the word originally meant, only 100 short years ago. The latin word precarius actually means 'given as a favour' so originally, precarious meant more along the lines of 'depending on a favour' rather than the physical instability that it is now used to describe.
There you go! A short history on the word precarious!
Here is a tiny flash fiction piece I wrote using the word as a prompt;
I sat and watched as he tiptoed over the rocks to the end of the groyne. I could hear the water lapping gently against the coffee rock as I saw his feet curl around the surest footholds he could find. He was almost at the end, fishing rod swinging around in his hands. Before he reached the point, a low rumbling began and the rocks began to shift under his feet. I heard him yell in shock. I jumped from my lazed positiong on the jetty and dove into the water towards the now tumbling wall of rock. I wish I could have swum faster. With no regard for my own safety I kept splashing towards the rockfall, heavy boulders smashing into the surface of the ocean to sink to the bottom.
When I finally reached it, the tumbling had ceased and only a few small stones continued to trickle into the water. I tread the water frantically as I searched for his small body. I couldn't find him anywhere. I screamed his name. Over and over. I mustered what sense I could and dived underwater. I ran out of breath before I saw anything. I surfaced, took a burning breath of air and dove under again. Then I saw it, a small childs hand protuding from under one of the larger boulders. I screamed underwater, the salty fluid filling my mouth and lungs.
Enjoy lovely ones! Send in your requests for word of the week! :D JPxx