care·​ful | \-fəl \
carefuller; carefullest

Definition of careful 

1 archaic

a : solicitous, anxious

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 \-​f(ə-​)lē \ adverb
carefulness \-​fəl-​nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for careful


conscientious, fussy, loving, meticulous, painstaking, scrupulous



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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

In all his films, Cuarón exhibits a careful attention not just to the narrative aspects of his storytelling but to how that storytelling is shaped by what the camera sees. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Roma, from celebrated director Alfonso Cuarón, is one of the year’s best movies," 20 Nov. 2018 Today’s workplace is much different where employers are paying careful attention to the softer side of skills that help their companies grow and retain top talent. Kimberly Thompson, Houston Chronicle, "Career Rescue: Soft skills help energy-job interview," 8 July 2018 Combined with careful attention to keeping crops healthy, integrated pest management even helps sustain pests’ natural enemies. James Degregori, STAT, "Using the principles of evolution to treat and prevent cancer," 27 June 2018 And as has been done for centuries, hunters share out whale meat, with careful attention to elders, like Ms Kanayurak, who cannot harvest their own. The Economist, "Whaling in Alaska," 14 June 2018 These tracks require careful attention, but most players won’t take the time to fully acquaint themselves with these ancient masterpieces. Marcus Hayes,, "Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth collapse at U.S. Open," 14 June 2018 And ultimately, that means that Google has to be careful. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "Google could finally face serious competition for Android," 18 Oct. 2018 Be careful! Fixer Upper and Trading Spaces fans are LOYAL. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "[UPDATED] Doug Wilson Explains His Trading Spaces Costar Didn't Injure Him After All," 14 Oct. 2018 The results of his experiment, published recently in PLOS Biology, reveal that crab spiders do not just hurl themselves randomly into the air, but are instead careful, deliberate fliers. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Before Soaring Through the Air, Tiny Crab Spiders Study the Wind," 18 June 2018

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

29 Nov 2018

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 \

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).


to enclose within walls

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