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[kaw-shuh s]
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  1. showing, using, or characterized by caution: a cautious man; To be cautious is often to show wisdom.

Origin of cautious

First recorded in 1630–40; cauti(on) + -ous
Related formscau·tious·ly, adverbcau·tious·ness, nounhy·per·cau·tious, adjectivehy·per·cau·tious·ly, adverbhy·per·cau·tious·ness, nounsu·per·cau·tious, adjectiveul·tra·cau·tious, adjectiveul·tra·cau·tious·ly, adverbul·tra·cau·tious·ness, nounun·cau·tious, adjectiveun·cau·tious·ly, adverbun·cau·tious·ness, noun


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prudent, guarded, wary, chary, circumspect, watchful, vigilant.

Synonym study

See careful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cautiously

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • From what I know of our young brother, I am satisfied he will proceed most cautiously.

  • Cautiously they placed them in the baskets on their backs and then retraced their steps.

  • Cautiously he drew back, still looking about for some means to cross the chasm.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • Cautiously he approached one of the four doors which opened from the living room.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • We must break it to them cautiously, but they must be informed directly.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for cautiously


  1. showing or having caution; wary; prudent
Derived Formscautiously, adverbcautiousness, 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

Word Origin and History for cautiously



1640s, from caution + -ous. The Latin word for this was cautus "careful, heedful." Related: Cautiously; cautiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper