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

Those precautions include being aware of peak mosquito hours from dusk to dawn, wearing long sleeves, long pants, and socks, and using insect repellent with DEET, officials said. Danny Mcdonald,, "EEE detected in mosquitos on part of Cape Cod," 6 Sep. 2019 The planes were evacuated as a precaution and are expected to return when the storm passes. CBS News, "Dorian expected to be "extremely dangerous" as it heads for U.S. — live updates," 31 Aug. 2019 Safety precautions will include starting the work on nights and weekends and then moving to round-the-clock operations when data on chemical vapors shows the working conditions are safe. Annette Cary, The Seattle Times, "After years of preparation, work to empty Hanford leak-prone waste tanks is ready to restart," 30 Aug. 2019 Alas, their precautions will likely prove inadequate, in part because their cause has so many prominent champions, including but not limited to the president, who are prone to rhetorical excess and theatrical provocation. John Hood, National Review, "New Nationalists Make Three Big Bets," 28 Aug. 2019 Even simple precautions, like not leaving it in a warm car, can help. David Nield, WIRED, "How To Get the Most Out of Your Smartphone Battery," 25 Aug. 2019 The health district ended their press release with these typical precaution reminders: Avoid drinking river water. Madeline Mitchell,, "Sewage breach fixed at Little Miami River," 16 Aug. 2019 Gaining trust may also mean scaling back security precautions—a risky strategy. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Ebola veteran promises an end to Congo’s epidemic," 6 Aug. 2019 The patient was put in a private room with contact precautions to keep the germs contained. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Got a horrifying foreign superbug? You may have more than one," 1 Aug. 2019

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

11 Sep 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).


to spread over or through

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