care·​ful | \ ˈker-fəl How to pronounce careful (audio) \
carefuller; carefullest

Definition of careful

1a : marked by wary caution or prudence be very careful with knives
b : marked by attentive concern and solicitude careful farm management
c : marked by painstaking effort to avoid errors or omissions often used with of or an infinitivecareful of moneycareful to adjust the machine
2 : exercising or taking care careful of a child's welfare
3 archaic
b : filling with care or solicitude

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Other Words from careful

carefully \ ˈker-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce careful (audio) \ adverb
carefulness \ ˈker-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce careful (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Squeeze juice from lemon, being careful to remove seeds. Judy Walker,, "New Orleans food blogger shares 'Recipes My Daddy Never Wrote Down' in her new cookbook," 12 Jan. 2021 The vice president who once spent hours a day with Trump, defended some of his most incendiary comments and was careful to not speak ill of him, even to his own closest advisers, now may be largely estranged from him. Josh Dawsey,, "Inside the remarkable rift between Trump, Pence," 11 Jan. 2021 But researchers have been careful to point out uncertainties. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Viral mutations may cause another ‘very, very bad’ COVID-19 wave, scientists warn," 5 Jan. 2021 This group, led by Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, has been careful to portray itself, however perversely, as defenders of the democratic process. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Trump Blew Up Ted Cruz’s Cynical Plan to Contest the Election," 5 Jan. 2021 Mars is all about doing, while Taurus is more reliable and careful. Elizabeth Gulino,, "Mars In Taurus Could Make Your Sex Life A Little Messy," 5 Jan. 2021 Put the gun back together, being careful that any rings and pistons are in the right order and facing the right direction. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "How to Disassemble and Clean a Semi-Auto Shotgun," 4 Jan. 2021 Porter, who lives in the Loop, has been careful to avoid public places. Lisa Schencker,, "When will you get the COVID-19 vaccine? Illinois health systems may use electronic medical records to reach patients in next phases.," 1 Jan. 2021 Sensitive to complaints about noise from flights at the airport, officials were careful to characterize the new concourse as the new home of the 14 remote gates the airport previously used, rather than an expansion. Washington Post, "Reagan National eyes summer 2021 for opening of a new 14-gate concourse," 30 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'careful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of careful

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

History and Etymology for careful

see care entry 1

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Time Traveler for careful

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for careful

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for careful


How to pronounce careful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of careful

: using care
: made, done, or said with care


care·​ful | \ ˈker-fəl How to pronounce careful (audio) \

Kids Definition of careful

1 : using care a careful driver
2 : made, done, or said with care careful planning She gave a careful answer.

Other Words from careful

carefully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for careful

careful and cautious mean taking care to avoid trouble. careful is used for a person who is able to prevent mistakes or accidents by being alert. Be careful when you paint the fence. cautious is used for a person who takes care to avoid further problems or difficulties. A cautious driver will drive slowly in bad weather.

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Comments on careful

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