Synonyms & Antonyms of cautious

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About cautious

How does the adjective cautious contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of cautious are chary, circumspect, and wary. While all these words mean "prudently watchful and discreet in the face of danger or risk," cautious implies the exercise of forethought usually prompted by fear of danger.

a cautious driver

When is it sensible to use chary instead of cautious?

The synonyms chary and cautious are sometimes interchangeable, but chary implies a cautious reluctance to give, act, or speak freely.

chary of signing papers without having read them first

When can circumspect be used instead of cautious?

While the synonyms circumspect and cautious are close in meaning, circumspect suggests less fear and stresses the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding.

circumspect in his business dealings

Where would wary be a reasonable alternative to cautious?

Although the words wary and cautious have much in common, wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in watching for danger and cunning in escaping it.

keeps a wary eye on the competition

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cautious

Time Traveler for cautious

Time Traveler

The first known use of cautious was in 1614

See more words from the same year

Cite this Entry

“Cautious.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cautious

Dictionary: Definition of cautious

Nglish: Translation of cautious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cautious for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cautious

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!