ca·ve·at | \ ˈka-vē-ˌät , -ˌat ; ˈkä-vē-ˌät ; 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

But four glaring caveats emerge from this observation., "Why Didier Deschamps Is Still a Problem Regardless of Leading France to the World Cup Final," 12 July 2018 This is true but as with many laws there are some important exceptions and caveats. Kate Guarino,, "How Do I Register To Vote In The 2018 Midterm Elections?," 26 June 2018 But caveats aside, the boldness of the move still stands. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Greatest Moments in Sports History. Ever.," 20 June 2018 Hearings are open to members of the public or media Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, though some caveats apply when they are held inside prisons. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s secretive parole board has almost unlimited power to release prisoners before their sentences are up. It has never been busier.," 17 June 2018 But here’s a huge caveat: Doing that can get very messy, very fast. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, Condé Nast Traveler, "The No-Risk, No-Hassle Strategy to Always Get the Best Price on a Cruise," 15 June 2018 Journal Report More in Tech Companies to Watch But those opportunities come with a huge caveat: Investing in technology startups is high-risk, particularly for people who aren’t familiar with the volatile tech scene. Tomio Geron, WSJ, "How Individuals Can Invest in Tech Startups," 12 June 2018 See the previous caveat about fan bases, but my oh my are these people annoying. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers fans, if you had to pick one, who do you despise more? Cardinals or Cubs?," 12 June 2018 So, some caveats: Nearly 16 percent hadn't made up their minds. Scott Wartman,, "This new poll about Ohio's 2018 election should worry Republicans," 12 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

Latin, may he/she beware

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Statistics for caveat

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for caveat

The first known use of caveat was in 1533

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More Definitions for caveat



English Language Learners Definition of caveat

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


ca·ve·at | \ ˈka-vē-ˌät, -ˌat; ˈkä-vē-ˌät, ˈkā-vē-ˌat \

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

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Comments on caveat

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


occurring twice a year or every two years

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