cau·​tion | \ ˈkȯ-shən How to pronounce caution (audio) \

Definition of caution

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : warning, admonishment Her comments were intended as a caution to us to protect our property.
2 : precaution a surgeon taking the caution of sterilizing his instruments
3 : prudent forethought to minimize risk Use caution when operating a chain saw.
4 : one that astonishes or commands attention some shoes you see … these days are a cautionEsquire


cautioned; cautioning\ ˈkȯ-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce caution (audio) \

Definition of caution (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to advise caution to : warn She cautioned him not to act rashly.

Other Words from caution


cautionary \ ˈkȯ-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce caution (audio) , -​ne-​rē \ adjective

Examples of caution in a Sentence

Noun You should use caution when operating the electric saw. He injected a note of caution in his talk. Her financial adviser urged caution before investing in the project. The roads are slippery: drive with extreme caution. Her comments were intended as a caution to us to protect our property. A note of caution: be sure that the electricity is off before you install the ceiling fan. She was given a caution by the magistrate. Verb Officials are cautioning that the war may continue for years. “Don't decide too quickly,” she cautioned. He was cautioned for speeding.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many investors remain confident that both bonds and stocks should stabilize, given the economy’s strength and the Fed’s recent record of caution when normalizing monetary policy. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, 23 Jan. 2022 Amy’s Kitchen has recalled the Vegan Organic Rice Mac & Cheeze boxes containing milk out of an abundance of caution. Chris Smith, BGR, 21 Jan. 2022 Though there is no evidence of domestic animals passing the disease to humans, officials are acting out of caution, Hong Kong’s health secretary Sophia Chan tells the Guardian’s Helen Davidson. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Jan. 2022 Two weeks ago, the festival’s powers-that-be announced that out of an abundance of caution, Sundance 2022 (which runs Thursday through Jan. 30) would again go mostly virtual. NBC News, 20 Jan. 2022 While learning is lost and parents are inconvenienced when schools needlessly close, schools shouldn’t be blamed for erring on the side of caution given a forecast even the best meteorologists can’t pin down. Washington Post, 20 Jan. 2022 While one crash is always one too many, the airline industry is just now recovering from the Boeing 787 MAX safety fiasco and is exercising an abundance of caution with this situation. Geoff Whitmore, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 There was no estimate regarding how many families chose to keep students home out of caution, but enrollment has ticked upward in the remote-learning option called City of Angels, despite its problems. Los Angeles Times, 20 Jan. 2022 Many of the cases under investigation were brought to the CIA’s attention following growing workforce awareness of the issue, and a request for all personnel to come forward with any potential symptoms out of an abundance of caution. Josh Meyer, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Though the South African data is encouraging, scientists caution that the country’s experience might not be repeated in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. Jason Douglas, WSJ, 31 Dec. 2021 Preliminary studies out of Scotland and England suggest that infections from the variant could be milder, but scientists caution that Omicron infections must be observed in the U.S. population before drawing conclusions. Lauren Leatherby, New York Times, 23 Dec. 2021 But scientists caution that any reductions in severity must be weighed against the fact that omicron spreads much faster than delta and is better at evading vaccines. Fox News, 22 Dec. 2021 Scientists caution that the knowledge of omicron remains imprecise. Washington Post, 18 Dec. 2021 Scientists caution the world will always remain at risk of new, more mutated variants so long as rich countries continue to hoard vaccines. Laura Lopez Gonzalez, Quartz, 3 Dec. 2021 First identified by researchers in South Africa, places such as Israel, Morocco, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia, have rushed to share information about the virus, even as scientists caution against closing off their borders. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, 29 Nov. 2021 However, scientists caution that several of the mutations could raise concerns. Meryl Kornfield And Lateshia Beachum, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Nov. 2021 Something unexpected could happen, scientists caution — another twist in a pandemic full of them. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 22 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of caution


1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1683, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for caution


Latin caution-, cautio precaution, from cavēre to be on one's guard — more at hear

Learn More About caution

Time Traveler for caution

Time Traveler

The first known use of caution was in 1566

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near caution




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for caution

Last Updated

26 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Caution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for caution



English Language Learners Definition of caution

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: care taken to avoid danger or risk : a careful attitude or way of behaving
: a warning telling someone to be careful
: a spoken official warning given to someone who has done something illegal but has not committed a serious crime



English Language Learners Definition of caution (Entry 2 of 2)

: to warn or tell (someone) about a possible danger, problem, etc.
: to give a caution to (someone)


cau·​tion | \ ˈkȯ-shən How to pronounce caution (audio) \

Kids Definition of caution

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : care taken to avoid trouble or danger : precaution They approached the dog with caution.
2 : warning a word of caution


cautioned; cautioning

Kids Definition of caution (Entry 2 of 2)

: to warn about danger

More from Merriam-Webster on caution

Nglish: Translation of caution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caution for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!