warn·​ing | \ ˈwȯr-niŋ How to pronounce warning (audio) \

Definition of warning

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of warning : the state of being warned he had warning of his illness
2 : something that warns or serves to warn especially : a notice or bulletin that alerts the public to an imminent hazard (such as a tornado, thunderstorm, or flood)



Definition of warning (Entry 2 of 2)

: serving as an alarm, signal, summons, or admonition a warning bell a warning shot

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Other Words from warning


warningly \ ˈwȯr-​niŋ-​lē How to pronounce warningly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of warning in a Sentence


She gave me a warning about the difficulties of the job. She issued a stern warning against making changes too quickly. Let that be a warning to you. We had no warning of the dangers that were ahead of us. Without any warning she turned around and ran. The storm struck without warning. I was stopped for speeding, but the policeman just gave me a warning.


usually gave her trademark warning look when the children were getting out of hand
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The recall two weeks later is an extension of that warning. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "State orders recall of marijuana products tested by shuttered Walled Lake lab," 30 Aug. 2019 When some of the battalions tried to go (and) observe these activities their movement has been blocked, and they have been given a 'fair warning' not to continue their activity. Fox News, "UN peacekeeping patrol filmed coming under attack by Hezbollah in Lebanon," 29 Aug. 2019 Trigger warning: The following contains language describing eating-disorder behaviors. Jen Mclellan, Glamour, "'Mommy, How Did You Get So Fat?'," 29 Aug. 2019 The bogus regulatory warning gave all Chinese firms a pretext to shun it. The Economist, "Why China’s assault on Cathay Pacific should scare all foreign firms," 22 Aug. 2019 Reports said the teenagers had ignored warnings from locals to stay clear of the tracks. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Indians are going too far for thrilling TikTok videos that can go viral," 21 Aug. 2019 The move to limit the scooters comes in the wake of a stern warning from Mayor Tom Barrett that the scooter-riders needed to get off the sidewalks — now. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Marquette University is the latest campus to ban e-scooters on university property," 19 Aug. 2019 Fair warning to men in relationships eager to conceive with their partner: Smoking cannabis could have an adverse effect on your reproductive health. Brendan Bures, chicagotribune.com, "Weed and infertility: Should men worry about their marijuana consumption?," 13 Aug. 2019 The movie seeks to be an essential historical document—and a kind of warning to audiences both in China and elsewhere. Brandon Yu, The Atlantic, "One Child Nation Paints a Harrowing Picture of an Infamous Policy," 13 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Privacy advocates have sounded warning bells about Big Brother secretly watching us from the sky. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Treasure Valley police dabble in drones as prices drop, rules for use multiply," 22 May 2017

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


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


1511, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for warning


Middle English warnyng, warnynge, going back to Old English warnung, wearning, from wearnian "to warn" + -ung, -ing -ing entry 3


from attributive use of warning entry 1

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Statistics for warning

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for warning

The first known use of warning was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for warning



English Language Learners Definition of warning

: something (such as an action or a statement) that tells someone about possible danger or trouble
: a statement that tells a person that bad or wrong behavior will be punished if it happens again


warn·​ing | \ ˈwȯr-niŋ How to pronounce warning (audio) \

Kids Definition of warning

: something that cautions of possible danger or trouble storm warnings

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More from Merriam-Webster on warning

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with warning

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for warning

Spanish Central: Translation of warning

Nglish: Translation of warning for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of warning for Arabic Speakers

Comments on warning

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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