caveat

noun
ca·​ve·​at | \ ˈka-vē-ˌät How to pronounce caveat (audio) , -ˌat, ˈkä-vē-ˌät How to pronounce caveat (audio) ; ˈkā-vē-ˌat\

Definition of caveat

1a : a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices a caveat against unfair practices
b : an explanation to prevent misinterpretation
c : a modifying or cautionary detail to be considered when evaluating, interpreting, or doing something The driving instructor gave his students this caveat: if you are driving under the speed limit, stay in the far right lane.
2 : a legal warning to a judicial officer to suspend a proceeding until the opposition has a hearing

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Did You Know?

You may be familiar with the old saying "caveat emptor," nowadays loosely translated as "let the buyer beware." In the 16th century, this adage was imparted as a safeguard for the seller: allow the buyer to examine the item (for example, a horse) before the sale is completed, so the seller can't be blamed if the item turns out to be unsatisfactory. "Caveat" in Latin means let him beware and comes from the verb "cavēre" ("to be on guard"). Perhaps you've also heard "caveat lector": "let the reader beware," a warning to take what one reads with a grain of salt. English retained "caveat" itself as a noun for something that serves to warn, explain, or caution. (The word caution is another descendant of "cavēre.")

Examples of caveat in a Sentence

Sound great? There's just one caveat: Knowledge about how genes work is still in the scientific Stone Age. — Andrea Knox, Chicago Tribune, 4 Aug. 2000 We'll add a caveat of our own for parents: After your kids walk through 17,500 gal. of swirling water, they're not going to be satisfied running through the lawn sprinkler. — Jim Wilson, Popular Mechanics, July 1999 But the youthquake in the new economy comes with a caveat that also may begin applying to politics. If you're inexperienced and you want a big job, you'd better be smart as hell. — Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, 22 Nov. 1999 … a cluster bomb can destroy objects over a wider area, with the important caveat that it is effective only if the bomblets have sufficient destructive power on their own. — Norman Friedman, Desert Victory, 1991 His investment advice comes with a caveat: that the stock market is impossible to predict with absolute accuracy.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The future may add another caveat: Hate-crime charges have become debased in the public mind because of false accusations. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Are Hate-Crime Laws Helping?," 22 Feb. 2019 There are a couple of caveats with the paper, though: The data were self-reported, which means women may not have always accurately recounted their experiences. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Abortions by mail are available now in the US. Here’s what you need to know.," 20 Oct. 2018 The 23-page manual offers a lot of caveats about results. Christine Willmsen, The Seattle Times, "Reporter’s DNA ancestry tests ‘caught me off guard’," 13 Sep. 2018 Even with the caveat that employment growth over the previous two months was lowered by a net 70,000 jobs, that counts as a big surprise. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "Oops! An Awkward Jobs Report for the Fed," 1 Feb. 2019 But that comes with the caveat that engendering reader trust is sometimes about playing the long game. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Sites like the Strategist, Wirecutter, and BuzzFeed Reviews want to help you find the best of the best.," 11 Dec. 2018 And Nicholson led Vukmir by 5 points statewide in Marquette’s June poll (with the caveat of a small sample and lots of undecideds). Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP senate primary in Wisconsin already reflects north-south divide within party," 13 July 2018 That call was made to the Nationals before Harper committed, with the caveat. Jorge Castillo, chicagotribune.com, "His All-Star spot no longer in doubt, Bryce Harper will swing away in Home Run Derby," 3 July 2018 With that caveat, though, her research has found that playing videogames for a significant amount of time can alter both the content and the quality of a person's dreams. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Do You Dream in Internet? Don’t Freak Out," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caveat.' 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 caveat

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for caveat

Latin, let him beware, from cavēre — more at hear

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Statistics for caveat

Last Updated

8 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for caveat

The first known use of caveat was in 1533

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More Definitions for caveat

caveat

noun

English Language Learners Definition of caveat

formal : an explanation or warning that should be remembered when you are doing or thinking about something

caveat

noun
ca·​ve·​at | \ ˈka-vē-ˌät, -ˌat; ˈkä-vē-ˌät, ˈkā-vē-ˌat How to pronounce caveat (audio) \

Legal Definition of caveat

1a : a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices
b : an explanation to prevent a misinterpretation
2 : a notice to a court or judicial officer to suspend a proceeding until the opposition can be heard a caveat entered in the probate court to stop the proving of the will

Other Words from caveat

caveat verb

History and Etymology for caveat

Latin, may he/she beware

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More from Merriam-Webster on caveat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caveat

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caveat

Nglish: Translation of caveat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caveat for Arabic Speakers

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