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 The year too many people weren’t careful and allowed COVID-19 to spread. John Shea,, "Buster Posey’s decision to opt out heightens his legacy," 11 July 2020 Rapinoe, by the way, urges everyone to be careful while seeking out salon treatments as states continue to reopen. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, "Megan Rapinoe's Pink Hair Is Back and Better Than Ever," 10 July 2020 The couple was careful and stayed away from the family, especially the five grandchildren. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "After two quarantines, COVID-19 still found a way to kill Louisville nurse," 9 July 2020 And Disney has long been careful in the extreme to avoid lightning rods. Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post, "Analysis: The Disney Co. is now in business with Colin Kaepernick. That says more about him than it does about Disney.," 7 July 2020 Wilson encourages people to put the harmless sea creatures back into the water, but to be careful because their arms are fragile. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Thousands of Starfish Wash up on South Carolina Beaches," 1 July 2020 Rather just some vague recommendations to be careful, to avoid being around large groups or in close proximity to others. Ann Killion,, "Get ready for A’s and Giants! As well as MLB’s patchwork protocol, trust issues," 28 June 2020 Just be careful when watering or moving, because this guy’s legs are small and fragile. Kai Burkhardt, CNN Underscored, "9 plants that are actually easy to keep alive, according to experts," 25 June 2020 But be careful in any type of risk-taking behaviors; you might get burned., "Horoscope," 22 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

17 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 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

Comments on careful

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