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

Example Sentences

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 The 15-year-old was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, first-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, disoberying an officer’s signal, unsafe backing and operation of a motor vehicle, police said. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 22 Jan. 2023 Nichols was arrested after officers stopped him for reckless driving, police said. Steve Leblanc, ajc, 22 Jan. 2023 Authorities have said officers stopped Nichols for reckless driving on Jan. 7. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, 21 Jan. 2023 On January 8, the police department announced officers pulled over a motorist for reckless driving the previous day. Steve Almasy, CNN, 20 Jan. 2023 DUI-alcohol/ drugs, improper lane usage, reckless driving, driving without insurance and having open alcohol in the car. Chicago Tribune, 19 Jan. 2023 Nichols, 29, was stopped by police on Jan. 7 for alleged reckless driving in Memphis, according to press releases from the Memphis Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Nakylah Carter, ABC News, 18 Jan. 2023 According to police, officers pulled Nichols over for reckless driving at about 8:30 p.m. Lucas Finton, USA TODAY, 18 Jan. 2023 Johnson, who also was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired and aggravated reckless driving causing bodily harm, was released from custody Monday pending a court hearing scheduled for Feb. 6. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reckless.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 2 Feb. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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