care·​ful ˈker-fəl How to pronounce careful (audio)
carefuller; carefullest
: marked by wary caution or prudence
be very careful with knives
: marked by attentive concern and solicitude
careful farm management
: marked by painstaking effort to avoid errors or omissions
often used with of or an infinitive
careful of money
careful to adjust the machine
: exercising or taking care
careful of a child's welfare
: filling with care or solicitude
carefully adverb
carefulness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for careful

careful, meticulous, scrupulous, punctilious mean showing close attention to detail.

careful implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes.

a careful worker

meticulous may imply either commendable extreme carefulness or a hampering finicky caution over small points.

meticulous scholarship

scrupulous applies to what is proper or fitting or ethical.

scrupulous honesty

punctilious implies minute, even excessive attention to fine points.

punctilious observance of ritual

Examples of careful in a Sentence

He is a careful driver. You can never be too careful about these things. Be careful! The stove is hot! She was careful of their feelings. The police were careful to leave the room exactly as they found it. Police made a careful examination of the scene. They produced a careful study of the building. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Like others, this one requires careful washing, but with proper care will last for a long time. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 20 Sep. 2023 And for a long time, to measure migrations of large numbers of birds, scientists had to aim telescopes at the full moon and make careful tallies of silhouettes passing over the orb. Victoria Sayo Turner, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Sep. 2023 Best Overall Insulated Jacket Canada Goose Crofton Jacket Few brands understand the careful engineering that goes into jacket insulation like Canada Goose. Todd Plummer, Robb Report, 19 Sep. 2023 The process has a familiar rhythm to it: the packing away of summer tank tops and minidresses, the unearthing of winter coats, and, of course, the careful selection of new season pieces that will inject life into your old favorites. Vogue, 19 Sep. 2023 The scene is enacted with a careful balance of poignancy and humor. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2023 Joe Vogel, a Democrat in Maryland’s House of Delegates, said choosing what to wear has often required a careful balance. Rachel Janfaza, New York Times, 17 Sep. 2023 Avoiding those pitfalls takes careful planning, Sarenski says. Nerdwallet, cleveland, 17 Sep. 2023 As health authorities pay careful attention to rising COVID cases—particularly cases involving new EG.5 and BA.2.86 variants—and the calendar moves toward cold and flu season, some may wonder about the potential for mask requirements and mandates. Cathy Cassata, Health, 16 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'careful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see care entry 1

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Time Traveler
The first known use of careful was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near careful

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


care·​ful ˈke(ə)r-fəl How to pronounce careful (audio)
: using care : watchful
a careful driver
: made, done, or said with care
a careful examination
carefully adverb
carefulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on careful

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