caveat emptor

caveat emp·​tor | \ -ˈem(p)-tər How to pronounce caveat emptor (audio) , -ˌtȯr\

Definition of caveat emptor

: a principle in commerce: without a warranty the buyer takes the risk Caveat emptor is a reasonable approach for many consumer products.

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Did You Know?

"Without a warranty, the buyer must take the risk" is the basic meaning of the phrase caveat emptor. In the days when buying and selling was carried on in the local marketplace, the rule was a practical one. Buyer and seller knew each other and were on equal footing. The nature of modern commerce and technology placed the buyer at a disadvantage, however, so a stack of regulations have been written by federal, state, and local agencies to protect the consumer against dangerous or defective products, fraudulent practices, and the like. But the principle that a buyer needs a warranty if he is to avoid risk remains an important legal concept. Note that a caveat is a small warning or explanation intended to avoid misinterpretation.

Examples of caveat emptor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Whether or not to jailbreak is really a caveat emptor proposition, and certainly not something for casual or novice users. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Jailbreaking: The FAQ," 14 Jan. 2019 So caveat emptor also enters the equation, which tends to lower any potential return -- or even interest. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Could Kevin Love tempt Heat if made available by Cavs?," 9 June 2018 Whatever happened to caveat emptor, common sense and the ability to reason? WSJ, "Facebook and Its Fake News Comeuppance," 1 Apr. 2018 The group last week designated Crypto as a caveat emptor security, which means that a skull and crossbones icon sits next to the stock symbol on the OTC markets website. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Bitcoin Mania Comes to the Stock Market," 13 Dec. 2017 The general principle of caveat emptor — let the buyer beware — can make sense for the sorts of facts that responsible buyers would find out for themselves. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, "Should Buyers Be Told About the Killer Next Door?," 6 Dec. 2017 Bitcoin has been the ideal proving ground for investment’s most powerful advice: caveat emptor, buyer beware. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "Is It Time to Regulate Bitcoin?," 4 Dec. 2017

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

1523, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for caveat emptor

New Latin, let the buyer beware

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Dictionary Entries near caveat emptor


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caveat emptor

caveat lector

cave bat

cave bear

Statistics for caveat emptor

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for caveat emptor

The first known use of caveat emptor was in 1523

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More Definitions for caveat emptor

caveat emptor


Financial Definition of caveat emptor

What It Is

Caveat emptor is Latin for let the buyer beware, meaning the buyer assumes the risk in a transaction.

How It Works

Garage sales are great examples of caveat emptor. Buyers purchase goods as is and have little or no recourse if those goods turn out to be defective. Thus, buyers are responsible for testing and examining those products before purchase.

However, in many cases outside of the garage-sale circuit (for instance, the purchase of a new car), several laws, regulations, and industry standards hold sellers to a higher standard by requiring them to offer adequate disclosure and take responsibility for defects that buyers may not note in a casual inspection.

Why It Matters

Caveat emptor, or the notion that the buyer takes the risk, is a fundamental principle of commerce. The resulting philosophy is that the buyer is responsible for knowing his rights and protecting himself.

After the 1929 market crash, Congress began to favor more disclosure (via the passage of the Securities Exchange Acts) over the notion of caveat emptor in the securities industry. However, buyers, particularly in the securities industry, are still responsible for their own decisions, and in many other areas of commerce, caveat emptor does not trump all -- sellers share responsibility for providing working products, sound advice, and transparent information to buyers.

Source: Investing Answers

caveat emptor


English Language Learners Definition of caveat emptor

law : the principle that a person who buys something is responsible for making sure that it is in good condition, works properly, etc.

caveat emptor

caveat emp·​tor | \ -ˈemp-tər, -ˌtȯr How to pronounce caveat emptor (audio) \

Legal Definition of caveat emptor

: a principle in commercial transactions: without a warranty the buyer takes the risk as to the condition of the property or goods — compare products liability at liability sense 2b, warranty

History and Etymology for caveat emptor

New Latin, may the buyer beware

More from Merriam-Webster on caveat emptor

Nglish: Translation of caveat emptor for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about caveat emptor

Comments on caveat emptor

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


having a desire to acquire more things

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