a) Attended with peril; dangerous; risky.

The situation became parlous when the weather made resupply impossible.

b) Dire, terrible, appalling.

Those manning the facility were in a parlous state.

2. adverb
Very, extremely.

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  • Parlous — Par lous, a. [For perlous, a contr. fr. perilous.] [1913 Webster] 1. Attended with peril; dangerous; as, a parlous cough. [Archaic] A parlous snuffing. Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster] 2. Venturesome; bold; mischievous; keen. [Obs.] A parlous boy. Shak …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • parlous — was described by Fowler (1926) as ‘a word that wise men leave alone’, and the current edition (2006) of the Concise Oxford Dictionary marks it as ‘archaic or humorous’. This is a sad fate for a long serving word, originally formed as a variant of …   Modern English usage

  • parlous — index aleatory (perilous) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • parlous — (adj.) late 14c., late Middle English contraction of PERILOUS (Cf. perilous) …   Etymology dictionary

  • parlous — ► ADJECTIVE archaic or humorous ▪ dangerously uncertain; precarious. ORIGIN contraction of PERILOUS(Cf. ↑perilousness) …   English terms dictionary

  • parlous — [pär′ləs] adj. [ME, contr. of perilous] 1. Literary perilous; dangerous; risky 2. Archaic dangerously clever; cunning, mischievous, shrewd, etc. adv. Archaic extremely; very …   English World dictionary

  • parlous — [[t]pɑ͟ː(r)ləs[/t]] ADJ GRADED: usu ADJ n If something is in a parlous state, it is in a bad or dangerous condition. [FORMAL] ...the parlous state of our economy. Syn: dire …   English dictionary

  • parlous — adjective Etymology: Middle English, alteration of perilous Date: 14th century 1. obsolete dangerously shrewd or cunning 2. full of danger or risk ; hazardous < the parlous state of the country > • parlously adverb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • parlous — par|lous [ˈpa:ləs US ˈpa:r ] adj formal [Date: 1300 1400; Origin: perilous] in a very bad or dangerous condition ▪ The country s police force was in a parlous state in 1990 …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • parlous — par|lous [ parləs ] adjective VERY FORMAL full of dangers or difficulties: There is a general belief that the arts are in a parlous state …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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