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Steep vs Abrupt vs Precipitous vs Sheer

Steepabruptprecipitoussheer mean having an incline approaching the perpendicular.

The words are here arranged in ascending order of degree of perpendicularity.

Steep implies so sharp a slope or pitch that ascent or descent is difficult.

Abrupt adds to steep the suggestion of a sharper pitch or angle of ascent or descent and usually of a sudden break in a level.

Precipitous suggests extreme steepness and an abruptness like that of a precipice.

Sheer implies precipitousness approaching the perpendicular and showing no break in its line.