[ kair-fuhl ]
See synonyms for: carefulcarefullycarefulness on

  1. cautious in one's actions: Be careful when you cross the street.

  2. taking pains in one's work; exact; thorough: a careful typist.

  1. (of things) done or performed with accuracy or caution: careful research.

  2. solicitously mindful (usually followed by of, about, or in): careful of the rights of others;careful about one's behavior;careful in speech.

  3. Archaic.

    • full of anxiety or care; troubled.

    • causing or attended with anxiety: a careful day.

Origin of careful

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English carful, cearful; see care, -ful

synonym study For careful

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.

Other words for careful

Opposites for careful

Other words from careful

  • care·ful·ly, adverb
  • care·ful·ness, noun
  • qua·si-care·ful, adjective
  • ul·tra·care·ful, adjective

Words Nearby careful Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use careful in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for careful


/ (ˈkɛəfʊl) /

  1. cautious in attitude or action; prudent

  2. painstaking in one's work; thorough: he wrote very careful script

  1. (usually postpositive; foll by of, in, or about) solicitous; protective: careful of one's reputation

  2. archaic full of care; anxious

  3. British mean or miserly

Derived forms of careful

  • 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