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 With the caveat that such maps are, for the most part, utter malarkey, Google Trends is back at it again for this year's Super Bowl. Matt Bonesteel, Anchorage Daily News, "Super Bowl favorite food map is - once again - decadent and depraved," 1 Feb. 2020 The release of Alabama’s annual athletics financial report Thursday came with a caveat. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Alabama athletics lost money in 2019, but it comes with a catch," 30 Jan. 2020 With the caveat that Golden Globes nominations and star power tend to go hand in hand, The Morning Show, with its huge-name cast, scored some. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "What Went Wrong With The Morning Show?," 21 Dec. 2019 Podcasts are incorporated into that model but with a caveat: Premium users will still hear ads that podcast creators have included within their episodes through third-party ad servers or sponsorship messages that hosts read. Ken Fowler, CNN, "For Spotify, music might not actually be the key to success," 20 Dec. 2019 But that good news comes with a caveat: Even if exchange users are paying lower premiums in 2020, their out-of-pocket expenses will likely keep climbing, said Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman or the office. Paul Roberts, The Seattle Times, "Health-insurance premiums on state exchange will fall next year, but out-of-pocket costs are still rising," 14 Sep. 2019 Eager to provide its students with a standout line on their resumes, the university extended the opportunity to all in the program, with the caveat that successful auditionees would have to return to campus before the start of school. Zachary Lewis,, "Cleveland Orchestra taking BW students on trip of a lifetime with ‘South Pacific’," 15 Aug. 2019 That comes with the caveat of leading the nation in visits with 79. Michael Casagrande |,, "What Alabama football should fix in 2019," 11 July 2019 Initially written as The Seinfeld Chronicles with a group of all-male leads, the show was picked up for production with the caveat that its creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, include a woman among the main characters. Farah Joan Fard, Marie Claire, "After 30 Years, We Still Owe Elaine From 'Seinfeld' So Much," 2 July 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

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caveat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 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

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