ca·​ve·​at ˈka-vē-ˌät How to pronounce caveat (audio)
ˈkä-vē-ˌät How to pronounce caveat (audio)
: a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices
a caveat against unfair practices
: an explanation to prevent misinterpretation
: 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.
: a legal warning to a judicial officer to suspend a proceeding until the opposition has a hearing

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, meaning "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.
Recent Examples on the Web Trump may have a problem in Arizona There are big caveats around Arizona’s presidential preference election and political observers warn against reading too much into a low-stakes contest featuring two presumptive nominees. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, 20 Mar. 2024 Indeed, even the two standout hires on the market — José Mourinho and Rafael Benítez — came with caveats. Rory Smith, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for caveat 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'caveat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of caveat was in 1533

Dictionary Entries Near caveat

Cite this Entry

“Caveat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition

: a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices
: an explanation to prevent a misinterpretation
: 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
caveat verb

Latin, may he/she beware

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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