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 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 Be careful as the planet of communication could be fuzzing up the works., "Horoscope," 14 Feb. 2020 Trump’s tweets aren’t very careful as a general matter, but the subcategory of tweets about pending investigations and cases is particularly problematic. The Editors, National Review, "Bill Barr Is Right about Trump’s Tweets," 14 Feb. 2020 Even at the local level a researcher has to be careful, as access to rural communities can be ruled tightly by local officials who are somewhat outside the reach of the central CCP in Beijing. Wenrui Chen, The Conversation, "Research in China is complicated by the Communist Party’s influence, says researcher who worked there," 7 Feb. 2020 The authors of the study are careful to note that climate change isn’t the only factor at play. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Rising Temperatures Are Partly to Blame in Bumblebees’ Decline," 7 Feb. 2020 Like many unauthorized residents, Marisol straddles the line between visible and unseen—doing just enough to get by but careful to never draw too much undue attention her way. Jason Parham, Wired, "The Small Miracle of Immigrant Stories on TV," 5 Feb. 2020 Be careful not to substitute self-rising flour for other flours while baking! Carmen Collins, Country Living, "10 Different Flour Types to Use in Your Baking," 4 Feb. 2020 Amman also would need to be careful not to upset the United States and Trump, as Jordan has been deeply dependent on U.S. foreign and military aid. Fox News, "Trump's Mideast peace plan could have major long-term implications for ally Jordan," 1 Feb. 2020 Be careful not to let the liquid splatter onto you or surrounding surfaces. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Grout on Tile Floors, Showers, and More," 20 Jan. 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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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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

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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

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