adjective care·ful \ -fəl \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of careful

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


play \-f(ə-)lē\ adverb


play \-fəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of careful in a Sentence

  1. He is a careful driver.

  2. You can never be too careful about these things.

  3. Be careful! The stove is hot!

  4. She was careful of their feelings.

  5. The police were careful to leave the room exactly as they found it.

  6. Police made a careful examination of the scene.

  7. They produced a careful study of the building.

Recent Examples of careful from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of careful

see 1care

Synonym Discussion of 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

CAREFUL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of careful for English Language Learners

  • : using care

  • : made, done, or said with care

CAREFUL Defined for Kids


adjective care·ful \ ˈker-fəl \

Definition of careful for Students

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


\-fə-lē\ adverb

Synonym Discussion of 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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