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 One caveat: For people living in proximity to major sources of pollution, opening a window might not be a good idea. Zoë Schlanger, New York Times, "Now Is the Time to Take Care of Your Lungs. Here’s How.," 27 Mar. 2020 The caveats: sick people should stay home and crowds should still be avoided. Elizabeth Depompei, Indianapolis Star, "Can I visit friends? Can I go outside? Here's what's left to do during the pandemic," 18 Mar. 2020 An important caveat: The report, released Tuesday, doesn’t account for the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: The Permian pain from oil price crash," 17 Mar. 2020 Of course, that advice is based on assumptions and caveats, a critical one being that investors believe that the U.S. and foreign governments will ultimately get right their response to the coronavirus outbreak and the widening economic fallout. Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus is slamming markets. What’s an investor to do?," 12 Mar. 2020 One caveat, though, is that the Brabus EQC only benefits from these improvements when the S drive mode is engaged using the Dynamic Select switch. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, "Brabus Gives Mercedes EQC EV More HP, Torque, and Attitude," 5 Mar. 2020 An important caveat to all of this: No matter what the rules are, companies can’t enforce them in a discriminatory way. Marisa Iati, Washington Post, "Your workplace has banned travel because of the coronavirus. Now what?," 5 Mar. 2020 One caveat: these sweets are substantial, packing in 120 calories per piece. Paul Stephen,, "The 5 best heart-shaped boxes of chocolate for Valentine’s Day," 10 Feb. 2020 The caveat: the intervals are limited to one minute. NBC News, "What are EMOM workouts? Give it a try with this 20-minute routine," 30 Jan. 2020

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

4 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Caveat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 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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