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 infinitive careful 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 All that said, investors probably need to be careful. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "Ethereum is leaving bitcoin in the crypto dust," 4 May 2021 His aim is getting people to wear protective masks and continue being careful. Javier Cordoba, ajc, "Costa Rica priest sings public health message amid pandemic," 3 May 2021 His aim is getting people to wear protective masks and continue being careful. Javier Cordoba, Star Tribune, "Costa Rica priest sings public health message amid pandemic," 3 May 2021 Investors looking for a quick and easy return should be careful. Iese Business School, Forbes, "Blank Checks Are Rarely Good. Are SPACs The Exception?," 28 Apr. 2021 But everyone needs to be careful, because testing is still required and COVID-19 positive tests are happening. Eric Sondheimer Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Prep Rally: Sierra Canyon picks up where it left off in boys’ basketball," 26 Apr. 2021 Wildlife officials urge everyone to be careful and pay close attention when spending time around fresh or brackish water. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Only in Florida: Large Alligator Filmed Strolling Through Publix Parking Lot," 23 Apr. 2021 Still, companies have to be careful, bioethicists say. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Vaccine passports: Pandemic spurs rise of portable health records," 23 Apr. 2021 The Arizona Department of Transportation said that drivers should be careful when traveling on Wednesday due to strong winds and blowing dust, including on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. Audrey Jensen, The Arizona Republic, "Fire danger extreme for most of Arizona Wednesday; northern Arizona sees wind advisory," 22 Apr. 2021

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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

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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