IATE Term of the week: Precariousness

October 14, 2016 12:42 pm

IATE Term of the Week: Precariousnessprecariousness

From last Friday´s euphoria we have no choice but to abruptly change our mood and to look to Haiti. The term of this week wants to focus on the dramatic precariousness affecting Haitian inhabitants in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

The hurricane has been the worst natural disaster to strike this Caribbean island since the earthquake of 2010: the deaths and injuries, the number of people still stranded, the cases of cholera contracted in the week since winds of 145 miles an hour blew the country back to a tragically familiar state of disaster. Precarious living conditions for most of its people makes it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.


But what does precariousness exactly mean? Here the results provided by IATE:

precariousness iate









Precariousness, as a noun, step to the adjective precarious. So, our Term of the week refers directly to the quality/ characteristic of being unstable because of “the lack of resources or financial means, according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy. A wide definition which allows this term to ‘fit’ in a variety of contexts as detailed in the IATE data base.

To know more about its etymologic origin we have to look back to Latin:

Precarious (adj)
From Latin precarius “obtained by asking or praying,” from prex (genitive precis) “entreaty, prayer”. Notion of “dependent on the will of another” led to extended sense “risky, dangerous, uncertain” (1680s). Related: Precariously; precariousness.

Contribute to IATE! Update the term in your language. A terminologist for the respective language will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.

Written by Ana Baudot – Journalist and Social media manager.
Communication Trainee. Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg.



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