caveat emptor


caveat emp·​tor -ˈem(p)-tər How to pronounce caveat emptor (audio)
: a principle in commerce: without a warranty the buyer takes the risk
Caveat emptor is a reasonable approach for many consumer products.

Did you know?

"Without a warranty, the buyer must take the risk" is the basic meaning of the phrase caveat emptor. In the days when buying and selling was carried on in the local marketplace, the rule was a practical one. Buyer and seller knew each other and were on equal footing. The nature of modern commerce and technology placed the buyer at a disadvantage, however, so a stack of regulations have been written by federal, state, and local agencies to protect the consumer against dangerous or defective products, fraudulent practices, and the like. But the principle that a buyer needs a warranty if he is to avoid risk remains an important legal concept. Note that a caveat is a small warning or explanation intended to avoid misinterpretation.

Examples of caveat emptor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Even with those changes in law and practice, caveat emptor still retains some vitality in the modern world. Joshua Stein, Forbes, 17 July 2023 Life was much easier in the era of caveat emptor. Joshua Stein, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 That is to say, caveat emptor. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 22 Mar. 2023 For now, that sounds like caveat emptor. Elin McCoy and bloomberg, Fortune, 25 Apr. 2022 But, caveat emptor: Art is a risky investment. Kathryn Graddy, The Conversation, 14 Sep. 2021 My advice to interested NFL teams: caveat emptor. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, 13 Sep. 2020 But any deal for Bauer will come with a caveat emptor — buy at your own risk. Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2023 Even if sellers tell prospective buyers that the vehicle briefly served as a boat, the full extent of the damage might not be evident, which brings us to the caveat emptor part of the story. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, 7 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History


New Latin, let the buyer beware

First Known Use

1523, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of caveat emptor was in 1523

Dictionary Entries Near caveat emptor

Cite this Entry

“Caveat emptor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Legal Definition

caveat emptor

caveat emp·​tor -ˈemp-tər, -ˌtȯr How to pronounce caveat emptor (audio)
: a principle in commercial transactions: without a warranty the buyer takes the risk as to the condition of the property or goods compare products liability at liability sense 2b, warranty

New Latin, may the buyer beware

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