pre·​cau·​tion | \ pri-ˈkȯ-shən How to pronounce precaution (audio) \

Definition of precaution

1 : care taken in advance : foresight warned of the need for precaution
2 : a measure taken beforehand to prevent harm or secure good : safeguard take the necessary precautions

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Other Words from precaution

precautionary \ pri-​ˈkȯ-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce precautionary (audio) \ adjective

Examples of precaution in a Sentence

Be sure to follow the usual safety precautions when cooking outdoors. When driving, she always wears her seatbelt as a precaution. Every home owner should take precautions against fire. She took the precaution of packing extra medicine for the trip.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Microsoft recommended that users change their passwords as a precaution. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Hackers reportedly abused Microsoft's customer support to read Hotmail, email," 15 Apr. 2019 Since mosquitoes can transmit disease, these extra precautions will help protect you from both uncomfortable itchiness and potential illnesses like Zika or West Nile virus. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How to Get Rid of Mosquito Bites and Stop Itching ASAP," 18 Mar. 2019 In India, authorities also instructed airlines to take extra precautions should a flight run into issues with the MCAS. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "Lion Air Crash Prompts Some Carriers to Boost Pilot Training," 7 Dec. 2018 Leo loves to bask in the spotlight, but during Mercury's backward spin, take extra precautions to make sure your stage is sturdy to support your endeavors: After all, public meltdowns are rarely well-received. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Your 2018 Guide to Surviving Mercury Retrograde," 26 July 2018 Take extra precautions if you're forced to drive through water. Gary Robbins,, "Safety tips for driving when roads are flooded," 8 July 2018 Speaking to The Washington Post, Thai SEAL commander Apakorn Yookongkaew said that divers would take extra precautions with the boys to prevent injuries or fatalities. Shibani Mahtani,, "Cave rescue stalls as death of Thai diver underscores perils," 7 July 2018 Those sensitive to smoke should take extra precautions today. #cawx — NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) July 3, 2018 7/3 #CountyFire Ops map for July 3rd. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Here's the air quality outlook for July 4 and beyond, amid Northern California wildfires," 3 July 2018 The Coast Guard on Wednesday warned boaters to take extra precautions before going out on the water because radio communications went down and there is no way for crews to monitor traffic offshore. Carli Teproff, miamiherald, "Boaters beware. Radio communication is down, the Coast Guard warns.," 27 June 2018

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

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for precaution

French précaution, from Late Latin praecaution-, praecautio, from Latin praecavēre to guard against, from prae- + cavēre to be on one's guard — more at hear

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Statistics for precaution

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precaution

The first known use of precaution was in 1599

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More Definitions for precaution



English Language Learners Definition of precaution

: something that is done to prevent possible harm or trouble from happening in the future


pre·​cau·​tion | \ pri-ˈkȯ-shən How to pronounce precaution (audio) \

Kids Definition of precaution

: something done beforehand to prevent harm or trouble or bring about good results You should take precautions against fire.

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Comments on precaution

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


a strong desire or propensity

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