Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Perilous; dangerous: "starting from scratch in parlous economic times” ( Madalynne Reuter).
  • adj. Obsolete Dangerously cunning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Attended with peril; dangerous; risky.
  • adj. Dire, terrible, appalling.
  • adj. Dangerously clever or cunning.
  • adv. Very, extremely.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Attended with peril; dangerous.
  • adj. Venturesome; bold; mischievous; keen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Perilous; dangerous; alarming; mischievous.
  • Notable; knowing; shrewd.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. fraught with danger

Etymologies

Middle English, variant of perilous, perilous, from peril, peril; see peril.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English contraction of perilous (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Bain's legal representative, Nicholas Ellis, referred to "what might be described as the parlous financial state" of Rangers.

    Rangers owner Craig Whyte could profit from threat of administration

  • It's in parlous condition, and it's filled with small, pilferable items, such as unopened letters and a rubber stamp that reads "I never answer letters, Ernest Hemingway."

    The Old Man and the Daiquiri

  • "Between our omnipresent legislatures which spend our time and money repealing what we lawyers already know, and enacting laws for the courts to set aside, these are what might be called parlous times for the profession, but my long suit is not in understanding statutes, but people."

    An American Suffragette

  • However, Labour's new general secretary, Ray Collins, has admitted its finances remain in a 'parlous' state.

    Archive 2008-06-01

  • He added that the country was in a "parlous" state and was experiencing many problems which were undermining freedom and democracy.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • He described the condition of the fleet as "parlous".

    News

  • If there be any magnetism in isolated attention, any in steadfast gazing, any in passes of the hand hither and thither -- if there be any magic in _ce doux demi-jour_ so loved in France, in stuff for flattery ready pointed and feathered, in freedom of admiration, "and all in the way of business" -- then is a lovable sitter to a love-like painter in "parlous" vicinity (as the new school would phrase it) to sweet heart-land!

    Stories by American Authors (Volume 4)

  • This weekend, as he considers the parlous state of his international reputation, he is likely to feeling a lot less comfortable than his one-time party friend.

    Prince Andrew's link to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein taints royalty in US

  • Given the parlous state of the music industry in recent years, when Goldman Sachs was appointed to look at Warner's options back in January, the big question was would anyone care at all?

    The sale of Warner Music highlights a turning point for the whole industry

  • Moreover, the already limited ability of our leaders to fashion a coherent strategy on other global issues is being further hampered by the repercussions of our parlous economic situation.

    Michael Brenner: America and the World -- Post November 2nd

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