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 warning (audio) \ adverb

Examples of warning in a Sentence

Noun 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. Adjective usually gave her trademark warning look when the children were getting out of hand
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This warning system, called the Homeland Security Advisory System, was unveiled after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, "Dallas street names, a WWII prisoner of war camp, TSA lights: Curious Texas answers a mailbag of questions," 4 May 2021 An earthquake early warning system that’s been 15 years in the making is now available to more than 50 million people along the entire West Coast, the most earthquake-prone region in the U.S., the United States Geological Survey announced Tuesday. Vanessa Arredondo, San Francisco Chronicle, "Earthquake early warning system expands to entire West Coast," 4 May 2021 So a public warning system was developed, along with plans to evacuate the urban core if necessary. Eric Roper, Star Tribune, "Why does Minnesota test tornado sirens on the first Wednesday of the month?," 30 Apr. 2021 But neither country has deployed an operational warning system. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "New Google effort uses cellphones to detect earthquakes," 28 Apr. 2021 The water is being tested for SARS COV 2 copies per milliliter as part of a pilot project that is intended to serve as an early warning system for future surges in the pandemic. BostonGlobe.com, "Another good sign: Traces of coronavirus in MWRA waste water are on the decline again," 26 Apr. 2021 In 2019, the National Institutes of Health granted $1.5 million to his team to develop an early warning system for flu outbreaks, the first effort in the U.S. to leverage national sewage data to track a viral spread. Miranda Weiss, Smithsonian Magazine, "Sewage Has Stories to Tell. Why Won’t the U.S. Listen?," 26 Apr. 2021 Also, sheriff’s employees can only see whether a student has been flagged by the district’s early warning system — not whether they had been flagged for a specific reason, such as grades or attendance. orlandosentinel.com, "Feds investigate after Florida school district gave students’ private information to sheriff," 19 Apr. 2021 One piece of that network, the United States' Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, was established in 1990 and serves as an early warning system for detecting potential safety problems with vaccines. Erin Schumaker, ABC News, "Pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccines shows monitoring system is working: Experts," 13 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In response, statistical authorities around the world could do little but issue warning press releases. Andrew Whitby, Time, "Filling Out a Census Has Always Been a Political Act," 17 Apr. 2020 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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Time Traveler for warning

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for warning

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Warning.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/warning. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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