Definition of caution in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɔːʃ(ə)n/


1 [mass noun] Care taken to avoid danger or mistakes: anyone receiving a suspect package should exercise extreme caution
More example sentences
  • Extreme caution and care is required and journeys should not be undertaken unless necessary.
  • To this effect, he wanted to urge road users locally to exercise care, caution and common sense when getting behind the wheel of a car.
  • The Australian government warns travelers to exercise extreme caution.
care, carefulness, wariness, awareness, heedfulness, heed, attention, attentiveness, alertness, watchfulness, vigilance, circumspection, discretion, prudence, guardedness, chariness, forethought, mindfulness
informal caginess
1.1 [count noun] British An official or legal warning given to someone who has committed a minor offence but has not been charged, to the effect that further action will be taken if they commit another such offence: they let him off with a caution
More example sentences
  • He received a caution for that disciplinary offence and, in the course of things, that would not be recorded on his personal record.
  • The Defendant further alleges that there were many warnings and cautions to Mr. Remillard to improve but no documentation was submitted to substantiate that.
  • It should cut all needless use of remand, and extend warnings, cautions and conditional discharges to minor offenders.
warning, admonition, admonishment, injunction, monition;
reprimand, rebuke, reproof, scolding;
exhortation, guidance, caveat, counsel
informal telling-off, dressing-down, talking-to
British informal ticking off, carpeting
1.2Warning: business advisers have sounded a note of caution
More example sentences
  • However he sounded a note of caution, warning that the glut of orders could provoke a disturbing crisis in manufacturing capacity locally.
  • Perhaps, then, Vergil's great epic does not aim only to magnify the greatness of Augustus' Rome but also to sound a note of caution or, even, warning.
  • The report waives a flag of caution, warning that resources needed for educational endeavors have been reduced all across the spectrum.
2 informal, dated An amusing or surprising person: ‘You’re a caution, you are,’ she said


[reporting verb]
1Say something as a warning: [with clause]: the Chancellor cautioned that economic uncertainties remained [with direct speech]: ‘Be careful now,’ he cautioned
More example sentences
  • Thailand might experience a trade deficit for the first time since the country managed to weather the 1997 economic crisis, KRC cautioned.
  • Finally, he calls for consideration of potential economic fallout, cautioning that new developments will inevitably displace older technologies.
  • However, oil greases the national economy, and Gref cautioned on Thursday that the sector could be squeezed only so much before the economy started to suffer.
1.1 [no object] (caution against) Warn or advise against (doing something): advisers have cautioned against tax increases
More example sentences
  • When advising readers on choosing titles carefully, you caution against titles that may be too silly or trite.
  • In an accompanying editorial, Patriarca commends the study of new options for prevention of influenza but cautions against equating efficacy data with real-life effectiveness at a community level.
  • Before concluding, we reiterate the importance of high morale and caution against false rumors, defeatism, uncertainty, and discouragement.
advise, warn, recommend, counsel, urge, admonish, exhort
1.2 [with object] British Issue an official or legal warning to: he was cautioned for possessing drugs
More example sentences
  • The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cautioned for his part in the break-in and the couple were charged with false imprisonment and common assault, which both deny.
  • Grant was cautioned for an illegal block, and Wimbledon had a penalty corner, but didn't get a decent shot.
  • The court heard he had a previous conviction for wounding, and eight years ago was cautioned for pointing a toy police gun at a security guard.
1.3 [with object] British (Of a police officer) advise (someone) of their legal rights when arresting them: having cautioned her, the police were ready to take her away for questioning
More example sentences
  • At most, it might be called investigative detention which does not require cautioning a person or advising him or her of a right to retain and instruct counsel.
  • He was cautioned and advised of his rights in respect of the burglary tool charge and was taken to the police station by D.C. Chilvers and D.C. Moreau.
  • PC Caroline Watkins, who arrested the defendant and cautioned him, said he made no reply.



err on the side of caution

Take a comparatively safe course of action when presented with a choice: it is better for a doctor to err on the side of caution and follow the most restrictive view of the law
More example sentences
  • We erred on the side of caution and had a high-profile police presence.
  • Whether its emissions will be a health hazard is not yet known and, rather than erring on the side of caution, it seems that our councillors are content for residents and workers in the area to be guinea pigs.
  • In last month's World Cup qualifier against Belarus at Hampden, he had been guilty of erring on the side of caution in fielding Kenny Miller as a one-man strikeforce.

throw caution to the wind (or winds)

Act in a completely reckless manner: you may even throw caution to the wind and try one of our Mystery Trips
More example sentences
  • With drink and festive cheer in excess, it's easy to throw caution to the wind and find yourself acting recklessly on a Christmas night out.
  • The TUC has chosen a poor time to suggest throwing caution to the wind when so many firms are under pressure from rising costs.
  • So, as usual, you throw caution to the winds and hope that, when the bills do come through, they won't be quite as bad as you know they will.

under caution

Having been told of one’s legal rights when under arrest: she made a statement under caution
More example sentences
  • The new evidence is not inconsistent with the statement Mr Jamieson made under caution to the police on 10th January 1957.
  • There were investigations by both Social Services and the police, and indeed the appellant was interviewed under caution in November 2002.
  • When he was interviewed under caution he gave an account to the police officers which was basically similar to that which he gave in evidence.


Middle English (denoting bail or a guarantee; now chiefly Scots and US): from Latin cautio(n-), from cavere 'take heed'.

Words that rhyme with caution

abortion, apportion, contortion, distortion, extortion, portion, proportion, retortion, torsion

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cau|tion

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