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

Definition of careful

1 archaic

b : filling with care or solicitude
2 : exercising or taking care careful of a child's welfare
3a : 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 moneycareful to adjust the machine

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Other Words from careful

carefully \ ˈker-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce carefully (audio) \ adverb
carefulness \ ˈker-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce carefulness (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

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.

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

Skeptical investors will have to be more careful in the future. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "An Earnings Climb Buys Stitch Fix Time," 11 Mar. 2019 But this time around, Republicans were more careful; Hawley was no Todd Akin. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "Republican Josh Hawley defeats Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri Senate race," 7 Nov. 2018 Plans include hundred-bed accommodations, but the smaller ones, like those from Nomad and Asilia, suggest a more careful way forward. Andrew Sessa, Condé Nast Traveler, "Ruaha: The African National Park You'll Have Almost All to Yourself," 11 Oct. 2018 The alert, warning people to arm themselves with the opioid antidote naloxone and warning users to be careful with drugs, was not the first sight of a surge in Hamilton County in recent weeks. Terry Demio,, "Overdoses surging in Hamilton County, public health issues alert," 11 July 2018 Be careful with claims that essential oils can help calm dogs down. Southern Living, "How to Keep Dogs Calm During Fireworks," 3 July 2018 The memo recommends numerous safety precautions, including not displaying work badge in public, be careful with public conversations and using caution on all social networks. CBS News, "Homeland Security employees warned of increased threats amid immigration uproar," 24 June 2018 With the Astros yet to break through in the third, Cole was more careful when Beltre, a .304 lifetime hitter against the Astros in his 21 seasons, approached with two runners on base and one out. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "Evan Gattis, Alex Bregman power Astros over Rangers," 7 June 2018 Using too much thinner could strip the primer, so be careful. Anthony Alaniz, Popular Mechanics, "How to Paint a Car," 4 Feb. 2019

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 1a

History and Etymology for careful

see care entry 1

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Statistics for careful

Last Updated

22 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for careful

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

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More Definitions for careful



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on careful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for careful

Spanish Central: Translation of careful

Nglish: Translation of careful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of careful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on careful

What made you want to look up careful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of authority or knowledge

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