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

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 Even when the state enters into phase three, Northam said people still need to be careful when in public. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, "Northam outlines phase 3 reopening guidelines, says Virginia at least a week away from entering it," 19 June 2020 Speeding citations have been up, so be careful and follow normal safe-driving protocols. Nick Rahaim,, "Here’s everything you need to know about road tripping in California this summer," 18 June 2020 Even those who are careful may still pick up a viral infection while doing an essential errand at the grocery store or pharmacy. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, "The strategies to help you build a lower-risk Covid social bubble," 17 June 2020 Finally, Beamer suggested being very careful about selecting your airline. Melissa Yeager, azcentral, "Is it safe to fly yet? 2 Arizona scientists assess coronavirus risks, suggest precautions," 15 June 2020 For some, the lesson from the punitive actions taken by SAFD and Sheriff’s Office will be that people need to be careful about sharing ugly, hateful thoughts on social media. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: Firefighter terminated for offensive Facebook posts," 12 June 2020 Be careful when chambering extremely long, high B.C. bullets in traditional, factory-production rifles. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "How to Choose The Right Hunting Bullet," 9 June 2020 But be careful, because this large exemption goes away in 2026. Dallas News, "Amateur hour: Loans to family members can be complicated," 7 June 2020 Be very, very careful before calling the police on a person of color for a minor crime. Rhonda Abrams, USA TODAY, "George Floyd: What small business owners can do to be community allies in a time of protest," 4 June 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

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 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

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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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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