• caveat
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KAV-ee-aht\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
a : a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices b : an explanation to prevent misinterpretation c : a modifying or cautionary detail to be considered when evaluating, interpreting, or doing something
2
: a legal warning to a judicial officer to suspend a proceeding until the opposition has a hearing
  • EXAMPLES

Their investment advice comes with a caveat: that the stock market is impossible to predict with absolute accuracy.

"Mars One is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to put a human settlement on Mars by the year 2023. The only caveat is, it's a one-way ticket." — From a subheadline on MSN News, August 9, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

You may be familiar with the old saying "caveat emptor," nowadays loosely translated as "let the buyer beware." In the 16th century, this adage was imparted as a safeguard for the seller: allow the buyer to examine the item (for example, a horse) before the sale is completed, so the seller can't be blamed if the item turns out to be unsatisfactory. "Caveat" in Latin means "let him beware" and comes from the verb "cavēre" ("to be on guard"). Perhaps you've also heard "caveat lector": "let the reader beware," a warning to take what one reads with a grain of salt. English retained "caveat" itself as a noun for something that serves to warn, explain, or caution. (The word "caution" is another descendant of "cavēre.")

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "redound," our Word of the Day from August 18? The answer is …

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