cau·tion | \ ˈkȯ-shən \

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 \

Definition of caution (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

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Other words from caution


cautionary \-shə-ˌner-ē, -ne-rē \ adjective

Examples of caution in a Sentence


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.


Officials are cautioning that the war may continue for years. “Don't decide too quickly,” she cautioned. He was cautioned for speeding.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

None of the teams involved in those three previous examples made it to the World Series, so consider that a word of caution to this year’s American League behemoths. Noah Trister, The Seattle Times, "AL East, AL West races in rarified air so far," 2 July 2018 But some expressed caution about sending local prosecutors and judges an ultimatum by giving them three months until cutting the facility's funding. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Brent Ackerson wants to shut down the old Louisville jail for good," 15 June 2018 In the interim, several US cities dispatched police to guard newsrooms, out of caution that the shooting might be tied to a larger attack on the press. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Five newspaper staff killed by man who sued them for covering his online threats and harassment," 29 June 2018 All three eschewed stopping during the final caution, choosing instead to keep track position. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Formula 1 on ESPN sees massive improvement; IndyCar thrilled in Phoenix," 9 Apr. 2018 Truex had a 16-second lead as the final laps of last year's race counted down before Kurt Busch brought out a caution, which triggered seven laps of NASCAR's overtime-finish format. Jason Hoffman,, "Martin Truex Jr. returns to Kentucky Speedway as defending race, series champion," 11 July 2018 With three laps left, though, a nine-car crash at the starting line put the field under the sixth caution, which sent the race into overtime with Larson leading Justin Allgaier, Sadler, Haley and Blaney. Steven Cole Smith,, "Kyle Larson takes Firecracker 250 after wild finish," 7 July 2018 But some caution against rushing to uproot coffee trees. Caroline Wambui, The Christian Science Monitor, "Kenyan farmers swap coffee for avocados to tap into global boom," 6 July 2018 Some caution that the number may be over 10 million. New York Times, "Belgium Honors Congolese Leader It Helped Overthrow," 30 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Indeed, whereas those around the prime minister may be unashamedly pro-business and pro-migration, Mrs May herself is wary of both, cautions one MP. The Economist, "A quiet revolution in Theresa May’s cabinet," 12 July 2018 Police are cautioned not to test suspected drugs in the field. Terry Demio,, "Overdoses surging in Hamilton County, public health issues alert," 11 July 2018 The review of the records has limitations and isn’t enough to establish a direct cause and effect, Getahun cautioned. Avichai Scher /, NBC News, "Study finds health risks for transgender women on hormone therapy," 9 July 2018 The earlier the better—Soko Glam cautions that favorites are selling out fast. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "The Best 4th of July 2018 Beauty Sales Worth Shopping," 3 July 2018 In March, Land Court Judge Michael Vhay said the T could work on the tracks, but cautioned that any MBTA construction would be at risk. Adam Vaccaro,, "How a South Boston real estate fight could delay new MBTA Red Line cars," 2 July 2018 Ferebee said the district has already made significant cuts to the central office in recent years and cautioned that decentralizing too many services could actually backfire and increase costs for schools. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Big cuts, teacher raises recommended for Indianapolis Public Schools," 29 June 2018 Velcheti only reported on the first 58 patients, making any conclusion tentative, Hossein Borghaei, an oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, cautioned at the meeting. Ken Garber, Science | AAAS, "Mutation-counting blood test could predict if cutting-edge immunotherapies can beat a cancer," 27 June 2018 Most of the time, the area is still, but every few days here, a siren will sound over a loud speaker and an announcer will caution people to clear off. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Meet the Brooklyn rocket startup testing engines out of storage containers on Long Island," 26 June 2018

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.

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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

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Learn More about caution

Dictionary Entries near caution







caution money

Phrases Related to caution

throw/fling/cast caution to the wind

Statistics for caution

Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for caution

The first known use of caution was in 1566

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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

law : 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.

law : to give a caution to (someone)


cau·tion | \ ˈkȯ-shən \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on caution

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caution

Spanish Central: Translation of caution

Nglish: Translation of caution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caution for Arabic Speakers

Comments on caution

What made you want to look up caution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make amends

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