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 Employees having to work across time zones and schedules can easily become irritated and lash out against the system if leadership is not careful. Reed Wilson, Forbes, "Hybrid Work Factors To Consider When Connecting Your At-Home Workforce With Your In-Office Workforce," 9 Apr. 2021 Be careful and make sure your car is not jutting out into the road. oregonlive, "Forest Park’s northern trails offer a quieter park experience," 8 Apr. 2021 But Moscow has always had to be careful—a large percentage of Russia’s gas reaches Europe through Ukraine. Oleksii Reznikov, WSJ, "Reject Nord Stream 2 Once and for All," 8 Apr. 2021 As always, be careful when receiving correspondence of any kind from an unfamiliar source. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Your latest job offer on LinkedIn might actually be a phishing scam," 7 Apr. 2021 Be careful, because the underside may stick to the cooling rack. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Let fruits take the cake," 6 Apr. 2021 Laffer’s advice was to be careful and not to risk blowing her nest egg. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Cathie Wood mentor Arthur Laffer says the ARK CEO’s horizon has always been ‘forever’," 30 Mar. 2021 The day of the Atlanta shootings, Nguyen's brother texted their family group chat and told his parents to be careful. Susan Du, Star Tribune, "Activism on the rise in Minnesota's diverse Asian American communities," 24 Mar. 2021 Despite the rise in vaccinations, health experts are warning that the nation should still be careful, even after receiving the first dose. Haley Victory Smith, Washington Examiner, "One quarter of the public has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, CDC says," 23 Mar. 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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Careful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 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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Comments on careful

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