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 Next came some vague concessions to the idea that global warming was a factor in the fires, with the obligatory caveat that now was not the time to play politics. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Australia’s Infernal Denial," 7 Jan. 2020 Same question about Ryan Kelly, obviously minus the caveat about position volatility. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "50-plus questions we have for Chris Ballard at year-end news conference," 1 Jan. 2020 There also is a restructuring of fees for entries and a caveat that primetime efforts that are an extension of daytime projects will now only be eligible for the daytime Emmys. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmy Rule Changes: TV Academy Again Reconsiders "Hanging Episodes"," 17 Dec. 2019 But there’s a critical caveat: Unless misconduct is so egregious that a public consensus forms that would induce two-thirds of the Senate to oust the president, the House should not impeach. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The Costs of Trivializing Impeachment," 13 Dec. 2019 As a final caveat on charitable donations, make sure the group is legitimate. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Tax changes have hurt nonprofit organizations as fewer people give to charity," 8 Dec. 2019 There’s a lot of benefits (and caveats) to becoming a unicorn. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "The Amazon Scare," 4 Dec. 2019 The foldable phones also still have major caveats—not because of shoddy design or inattention to detail, but because any brand new technology will need to iterate and get better. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Pablo Escobar's Brother Made a Folding Phone for Some Reason," 3 Dec. 2019 Even taking these caveats into account, Majungasaurus remains an outlier even among other carnivores, which raises the question of what the dinosaur was doing differently. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "Flesh-Ripping Dinosaurs Replaced Their Teeth Multiple Times a Year," 28 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for caveat

Time Traveler

The first known use of caveat was in 1533

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caveat.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for caveat


How to pronounce caveat (audio) How to pronounce caveat (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of caveat

formal : 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 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caveat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caveat

Nglish: Translation of caveat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of caveat for Arabic Speakers

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).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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