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[kair-fuh l] /ˌkɛər fəl/
cautious in one's actions:
Be careful when you cross the street.
taking pains in one's work; exact; thorough:
a careful typist.
(of things) done or performed with accuracy or caution:
careful research.
solicitously mindful (usually followed by of, about, or in):
careful of the rights of others; careful about one's behavior; careful in speech.
  1. full of anxiety or care; troubled.
  2. causing or attended with anxiety:
    a careful day.
Origin of careful
before 1000; Middle English; Old English carful, cearful. See care, -ful
Related forms
carefully, adverb
carefulness, noun
quasi-careful, adjective
quasi-carefully, adverb
ultracareful, adjective
ultracarefully, adverb
1. watchful, guarded, chary, circumspect. 2. meticulous, discerning. 3. conscientious. 4. thoughtful, concerned, solicitous, attentive, heedful, regardful.
1–4. careless.
Synonym Study
1. Careful, cautious, discreet, wary imply a watchful guarding against something. Careful implies guarding against mistakes, by paying strict and close attention to details, and, often, trying to use good judgment: He was careful to distinguish between them. Cautious implies a fear of some unfavorable situation and investigation before coming to conclusions: cautious about investments. Discreet implies being prudent in speech and action and being trustworthy as a confidant: discreet in manner, in keeping secrets. Wary implies a vigilant lookout for a danger suspected or feared: wary of polite strangers. 2, 3. See painstaking. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for carefulness
Historical Examples
  • A sudden instinct for carefulness had prompted him to make that request.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson
  • Then the carefulness relaxed, as it was bound to do, and some mistakes occurred.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • Are we to regard these as the only people incapable of being taught this virtue of carefulness?

    The Economist Xenophon
  • When I see a man intent on carefulness, I praise and do my best to honour him.

    The Economist Xenophon
  • carefulness in regard to every detail is the only safe rule to adopt.

  • Perhaps the carefulness of his education might have done it.

  • Susanna bound up the old man's head with the carefulness of a daughter.

    Strife and Peace

    Fredrika Bremer
  • She could not tell whether it was the barrenness of the room, or Milt's carefulness, that caught her.

    Free Air Sinclair Lewis
  • It is on account of his carefulness that he has never had to consult a doctor since his life began.

    Godfrey Morgan Jules Verne
  • This was to teach her foresight and carefulness, her father said.

    A Missionary Twig

    Emma L. Burnett
British Dictionary definitions for carefulness


cautious in attitude or action; prudent
painstaking in one's work; thorough: he wrote very careful script
(usually postpositive; foll by of, in, or about) solicitous; protective: careful of one's reputation
(archaic) full of care; anxious
(Brit) mean or miserly
Derived Forms
carefully, adverb
carefulness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for carefulness

Old English carfulnys; see careful + -ness.



Old English cearful "mournful, sad," also "full of care or woe; anxious; full of concern" (for someone or something), thus "applying attention, painstaking, circumspect;" from care (n.) + -ful.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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