Is there a word for when something is unsafe but unfatal too? Like you could get injured from it but it won't kill you. For example

Climbing that ladder would be very X


Those old stairs look very X

where x is the word that means it's unsafe but nonfatal.

I've considered unsafe and dangerous, but both of them could be used to describe something fatal. If the word could describe something fatal it won't do. I tried searching 'unsafe nonfatal' in a couple of different dictionaries from the list, along with searching 'dangerous' in the thesaurus but I couldn't find anything.

  • Hello, DJ. I can go with 'dangerous but very unlikely to have fatal consequences', but I don't see how 'dangerous but certain not to have fatal consequences' works. Aug 6, 2019 at 14:19
  • If something is relatively safe, accidents can still happen and if they are fatal or not we never know until after the accident has happened. Therefore the word you describe cannot exist. There are relative degrees of risk. But they are not the same as your description.
    – Brad
    Aug 6, 2019 at 14:46
  • What's wrong with using more than a single word? Are you writing poetry where you've written yourself into a rhythmic corner?
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2019 at 15:21
  • So you want word/phrase to describe a situation where an event may or may not happen, that would get you injured, but there would be no risk of death ?
    – Smock
    Aug 6, 2019 at 15:32
  • 1
    @Jim Particularly if you intensify the adjective with "very", as in the sample sentence.
    – Centaurus
    Aug 7, 2019 at 0:03

3 Answers 3


hazardous. TFD

  • Marked by danger; perilous.
  • Depending on chance; risky.

As in:

"skydiving is a hazardous sport"; "extremely risky going out in the tide and fog"; "a wild financial scheme"

  • 1
    If It’s applicable to skydiving, it’s not applicable to OP’s context.
    – Jim
    Aug 6, 2019 at 17:48

It sounds like you want to communicate the possibility of harm rather than the certainty of fatality. "Perilous" might be an option but risky is more commonly used.
As Brad points out, if something can cause injury then there is also the possibility that the injury might be fatal so we cannot say that you might be injured but it is impossible to be killed.

Climbing that ladder would be very risky


Those old stairs look very risky


Full of the possibility of danger, failure, or loss.
'it was much too risky to try to disarm him

  • Risky is a great choice, because you can qualify it so easily. The ladder can be risky to your ankles. The old stairs can be risky to your clean outfit. And so on...
    – user205876
    Aug 7, 2019 at 5:42
  • Not exactly what I was looking for but very close. Good answer.
    – user356956
    Aug 7, 2019 at 16:48


Treacherous is a pretty common word and works in both of your situations.

unstable or insecure, as footing.
dangerous; hazardous:

Climbing that ladder would be very treacherous.

Those old stairs look very treacherous.

  • 1
    Treacherous can be deadly.
    – Jim
    Aug 6, 2019 at 17:48

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