full of danger or risk
- The company is in a parlous financial situation.
- He talked about the parlous state of the country.
Not to be confused with “parlour”, the living room of a house or a room for entertaining guests (a room for talking), for which at Vanguard they make the most of the alliteration and similitude:
[From Middle English alteration of perilous]
First Known Use: 14th century
Parlous is both a synonym and a derivative of “perilous“; it came to be as an alteration of “perilous” in Middle English. (“Perilous” is derived from the Anglo-French perilleus, which ultimately comes from the Latin word for “danger”: “periculum.”) Both words are documented in use from at least the 14th century, but by the 17th century “parlous” had slipped from common use and was considered more or less archaic. It experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 20th century (although some critics still regarded it as an archaic affectation), and today it appears in fairly common use, often modifying “state” or “times.” [Parlous also used to mean dangerously clever or mischievous; keen; shrewd. But in this sense it has long fallen out of disuse.]
Synonyms: grave, grievous, hazardous, jeopardizing, menacing, dangerous, perilous, risky, serious, threatening, unhealthy, unsafe, venturesome
And from ships to water … or at least water security:
And, of course, the desalination plant at Wonthaggi. The desal plant has become an easy political target. But the water situation in Victoria was parlous when former premier John Brumby gave it the green light, with signs Melbourne was running out of water.
Parlous … it’s all about impending danger, nervous tension, perilousness:
1. Fraught with danger; that is, accompanied by problems, dangers, or difficulties: Chad embarked on a parlous trip down the river and over the rapids.
2. Full of or expressing nervous tension and anxiety: Shanna’s mood was most parlous when she was preparing to make her first speech as a member of the government.
3. Etymology: a contraction of perilous; from Old French perillous (French périlleux), “dangerous, hazardous”; from Latin periculosus, which came from periculum, “dangerous”.
And as so oft today, life imitates art:
A game by Lemony Snickets
A novel by Ed Southern
At Creative Loafing, love’s labours lost:
Carmichael’s has recently added Carmichael’s Kids, a store selling books for children. In these parlous days, the opening of Carmichael’s Kids reminds us never to give up hope. Books are good. Kids are good. Let’s get them together.
Not since Noah and the great flood has humankind been in such a parlous state.
- O Sister! Sarah Palin and the parlous politics of poor white trash, Dialectical Anthropology, March 2009, 33:15.
- Parlous – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- For farmers, water supply has significant impacts, Ed Gannon – Herald Sun, January 19, 2017
- Parlous state of economy affecting sales, says beer parlor operators – Vanguard, December 26, 2016
- ‘Zombie Ships’ Mask Parlous State of Container Shipping Industry by – gCaptain, January 21, 2016
- Too many vessels spoil the oil tanker rate – Nikkei Asian Review, January 17, 2017
- Poet’s Notebook: Labors of love – Peter Meinke, January 29, 2017
- Rethinking if not resetting, Ronald Grigor Suny – Oxford University Press blog, January 10, 2017