reck·​less ˈre-kləs How to pronounce reckless (audio)
: marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences
: irresponsible
reckless charges
recklessly adverb
recklessness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for reckless

adventurous, venturesome, daring, daredevil, rash, reckless, foolhardy mean exposing oneself to danger more than required by good sense.

adventurous implies a willingness to accept risks but not necessarily imprudence.

adventurous pioneers

venturesome implies a jaunty eagerness for perilous undertakings.

venturesome stunt pilots

daring implies fearlessness in courting danger.

daring mountain climbers

daredevil stresses ostentation in daring.

daredevil motorcyclists

rash suggests imprudence and lack of forethought.

a rash decision

reckless implies heedlessness of probable consequences.

a reckless driver

foolhardy suggests a recklessness that is inconsistent with good sense.

the foolhardy sailor ventured into the storm

Examples of reckless in a Sentence

He is a wild and reckless young man. He showed a reckless disregard for the safety of others. He spends money with reckless abandon.
Recent Examples on the Web Political analysts in the Middle East called Washington’s support for Israel’s war a reckless position that doesn’t account for the long-term diplomatic, security and economic effects of alienating a region where rivals, namely China, are carving deeper inroads. Mohamad El Chamaa, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 Shyne was arrested and convicted in 2001 on two counts of assault, reckless endangerment and gun possession, and he was later deported to his native Belize. Erik Ortiz, NBC News, 22 Nov. 2023 In the wake of the collapse of crypto markets in May 2022, which brought to an end a period of frenzied hype and reckless spending that sent the price of crypto tokens to record highs, many of the industry’s figureheads have either been charged with or convicted of felonies. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 22 Nov. 2023 Where Musk’s tenure at X has been messy, embarrassing, and reckless, Zuckerberg’s stewardship of Meta has lately seemed relatively steady and composed. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2023 Israel has made almost all of the major decisions regarding Gaza since 1967—including the reckless and self-destructive decision to bolster Hamas in order to split the Palestinian national movement between Islamists based in Gaza and secular nationalists in the West Bank. Hussein Ibish, The Atlantic, 1 Nov. 2023 The point in these earlier scenes is less about solving a crime than the Mystery of the Human Heart, and how the couple’s sometimes reckless adventures will bring them together and drive them apart. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 There is something bold, perhaps reckless, in preaching serenity from the volcano’s edge. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Even if lethal autonomous weapons are banned, reckless use of AI could cause military systems to fail. WIRED, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reckless.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of reckless was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near reckless

Cite this Entry

“Reckless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


reck·​less ˈrek-ləs How to pronounce reckless (audio)
: showing lack of caution : irresponsible, wild
recklessly adverb
recklessness noun

Legal Definition


: characterized by the creation of a substantial and unjustifiable risk to the lives, safety, or rights of others and by a conscious and sometimes wanton and willful disregard for or indifference to that risk that is a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise in like circumstances see also involuntary manslaughter at manslaughter, reckless homicide at homicide, recklessness compare careless
recklessly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on reckless

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