verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
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Words nearby beware
What does beware mean?
Beware means be careful or cautious—watch out for danger or other bad stuff.
Beware is a command (or at least a suggestion). Sometimes, it’s used by itself, as in Beware! There are dark forces afoot!
More commonly, it’s immediately followed by the specific thing you should beware of, as in Beware the words of politicians.
Perhaps most commonly, it’s paired with the word of, such as on a sign that says Beware of cat. (You thought we were going to say Beware of dog, didn’t you? Stay alert, folks. Beware a wily dictionary.)
Example: Before you enter the internet, there should be a sign that says “Beware of trolls.”
Where does beware come from?
The first records of the word beware come from the 1100s. It comes from the warning phrase be ware, meaning “be wary.” Wary means “watchful” or “on guard against danger.” Wary, the ware in beware, and the word aware are all based on the same root, and all involve alertness or watchfulness. The word be is used in the same way in the similarly formed word begone.
Beware doesn’t sound as archaic as begone, but it does sound a little old-fashioned and dramatic (especially when used without of). It can be used as simple advice, as in Beware of ice on your drive home, but a lot of people would probably just say watch out for instead of beware of.
Since beware is typically used as an imperative (a command), when it’s used in more general advice, it can sometimes sound like a proverb. It’s used this way in the famous expression beware of Greeks bearing gifts (meaning “don’t trust enemies who bring you gifts”—a reference to the story of Trojan horse).
The Latin phrase caveat emptor literally translates as “let the buyer beware,” meaning that unless a product has a warranty, it’s basically up to the buyer to make sure the product is OK before buying it.
The most common modern use of beware is probably on signs that say things like Beware of dog. Such a message is intended as a warning that’s also supposed to clear the property owner of any responsibility for what happens if you don’t beware the dog.
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How is beware used in real life?
Outside of its use on signs warning about dangerous dogs, beware is usually used to sound a little old-fashioned or dramatic.
beware of dog, he is absolutely terrifying (thepetcollective) pic.twitter.com/0k22EMPOcy
— Animals Are Everything (@puppieslogic) May 20, 2020
In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight,
let those who worship evil's might,
beware my power, Green Lantern's Light.
— Sheikh Saheb (@R3dspik3) May 17, 2020
4/ Caveat emptor, a concept that goes hand-in-hand with Laissez-faire economics, means “buyer beware.”
The idea is that if people are duped, it’s their own fault for not being wiser. https://t.co/mbPu3jCuLX
— Teri Kanefield (@Teri_Kanefield) May 18, 2020
Try using beware!
Which of the following things should you NOT do when told to beware?
A. be on guard
C. watch out
D. take heed
Example sentences from the Web for beware
The sobering reality is that there isn’t a single model of economic organization that will allow us to do so, and we must beware of rhetoric for another grand redesign of capitalism.
Inside the woven exterior is a steel frame for added stability, and the wicker material is environmentally sustainable—just beware if you have a cat who sees all wicker as a potential scratching post.Attractive laundry hampers that make your dirty clothes look a little better|PopSci Commerce Team|September 16, 2020|Popular Science
Your targeting must comply with Google’s advertising on personalization and beware that sensitive keywords will serve only contextually or not at all.Google custom audiences, the combo of custom affinity and custom intent audiences, now live|Ginny Marvin|September 14, 2020|Search Engine Land
But beware of voting based on the fears stoked by politicians for their own political gain -- on both sides.Ebola, ISIS, the Border: So Much to Fear, So Little Time!|Gene Robinson|November 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And beware the perky morning anchors with their inane questions (Aretha Franklin).
But we should beware of the facile tradition of criticizing colleges, professors, and the young (or just mocking them).
Singh went on to say that Indian women should beware of adopting a western code of feminism.
However maddening this may be, we should beware of going the other way and making everything too plain.
The detective laughingly promised to beware of the sanguinary Mrs. Nelson, and the carpenter went his way.The Burglar's Fate And The Detectives|Allan Pinkerton
Let them beware “lest the same measure they mete be measured to them again!”Lectures on the Philosophy and Practice of Slavery|William A. Smith
We should beware of all new-comers, and far from treating them with kindness, we should chase them away.The Memoirs of a White Elephant|Judith Gautier
But, secondly, we must beware of disheartening ourselves by hastily concluding that in our case Christs grace has failed.
"Samuel, beware of elevator acquaintances," said Myra in her most solemn manner.Once a Week|Alan Alexander Milne