verb (used without object), cared, car·ing.

verb (used with object), cared, car·ing.

to feel concern about: He doesn't care what others say.
to wish; desire; like: Would you care to dance?


    couldn't care less, could not care less; be completely unconcerned: I couldn't care less whether she goes to the party or not.Also could care less.
    take care,
    1. be alert; be careful: Take care that you don't fall on the ice!
    2. take care of yourself; goodbye: used as an expression of parting.
    take care of,
    1. to watch over; be responsible for: to take care of an invalid.
    2. to act on; deal with; attend to: to take care of paying a bill.

Origin of care

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English caru, cearu, cognate with Gothic kara, Old High German chara “lament”
Related formscar·er, nounnon·car·ing, adjectiveo·ver·care, nounun·car·ing, adjective

Synonym study

1. See concern. 3. To take care, pains, trouble (to do something) implies watchful, conscientious effort to do something exactly right. To take care implies the performance of one particular detail: She took care to close the cover before striking the match. To take pains suggests a sustained carefulness, an effort to see that nothing is overlooked but that every small detail receives attention: to take pains with fine embroidery. To take trouble implies an effort that requires a considerable amount of activity and exertion: to take the trouble to make suitable arrangements.

Usage note

13. Couldn't care less, a phrase used to express indifference, is sometimes heard as could care less, which ought to mean the opposite but is intended to be synonymous with the former phrase. Both versions are common mainly in informal speech. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cared

Contemporary Examples of cared

Historical Examples of cared

  • To have married a girl who cared only for his money; that would have been dire enough.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He would not have cared half so much for any insult to himself.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • He cared as little for the money as Uncle Peter did, large sum though it was.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • She cared little for poverty or riches, as long as she had regained her chief treasures.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • This satisfied him, for he cared nothing for the attachment of those under his command.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for cared



(when tr, may take a clause as object) to be troubled or concerned; be affected emotionallyhe is dying, and she doesn't care
(intr; foll by for or about) to have regard, affection, or consideration (for)he cares more for his hobby than his job
(intr foll by for) to have a desire or taste (for)would you care for some tea?
(intr foll by for) to provide physical needs, help, or comfort (for)the nurse cared for her patients
(tr) to agree or like (to do something)would you care to sit down, please?
for all I care or I couldn't care less I am completely indifferent


careful or serious attentionunder her care the plant flourished; he does his work with care
protective or supervisory controlin the care of a doctor
(often plural) trouble; anxiety; worry
an object of or cause for concernthe baby's illness was her only care
cautionhandle with care
care of at the address of: written on envelopesUsual abbreviation: c/o
in care or into care social welfare made the legal responsibility of a local authority by order of a court

Word Origin for care

Old English cearu (n), cearian (vb), of Germanic origin; compare Old High German chara lament, Latin garrīre to gossip


n acronym for

Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere, Inc.; a federation of US charities, giving financial and technical assistance to many regions of the world
communicated authenticity, regard, empathy: the three qualities believed to be essential in the therapist practising client-centred therapy
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 cared



Old English carian, cearian "be anxious, grieve; to feel concern or interest," from Proto-Germanic *karojanan (cf. Old High German charon "to lament," Old Saxon karon "to care, to sorrow"), from the same source as care (n.). OED emphasizes that it is in "no way related to L. cura." Related: Cared; caring.

To not care as a negative dismissal is attested from mid-13c. Phrase couldn't care less is from 1946; could care less in the same sense (with an understood negative) is from 1966. Care also figures in many "similies of indifference" in the form don't care a _____, with the blank filled by fig, pin, button, cent, straw, rush, point, farthing, snap, etc., etc.

Positive senses, e.g. "have an inclination" (1550s); "have fondness for" (1520s) seem to have developed later as mirrors to the earlier negative ones.



Old English caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "burdens of mind; serious mental attention," from Proto-Germanic *karo (cf. Old Saxon kara "sorrow;" Old High German chara "wail, lament;" Gothic kara "sorrow, trouble, care;" German Karfreitag "Good Friday"), from PIE root *gar- "cry out, call, scream" (cf. Irish gairm "shout, cry, call;" see garrulous).

Different sense evolution in related Dutch karig "scanty, frugal," German karg "stingy, scanty." The sense development in English is from "cry" to "lamentation" to "grief." Meaning "charge, oversight, protection" is attested c.1400, the sense in care of in addressing. To take care of "take in hand, do" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cared


In addition to the idiom beginning with care

  • care package

also see:

  • couldn't care less
  • for all (I care)
  • in care of
  • in charge (the care of)
  • take care
  • take care of
  • tender loving care
  • that's (takes care of) that
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.