• synonyms


[kair-fuh l]
See more synonyms for careful on Thesaurus.com
  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.
  3. (of things) done or performed with accuracy or caution: careful research.
  4. solicitously mindful (usually followed by of, about, or in): careful of the rights of others; careful about one's behavior; careful in speech.
  5. Archaic.
    1. full of anxiety or care; troubled.
    2. causing or attended with anxiety: a careful day.
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Origin of careful

before 1000; Middle English; Old English carful, cearful. See care, -ful
Related formscare·ful·ly, adverbcare·ful·ness, nounqua·si-care·ful, adjectivequa·si-care·ful·ly, adverbul·tra·care·ful, adjectiveul·tra·care·ful·ly, adverb


See more synonyms for careful on Thesaurus.com
1. watchful, guarded, chary, circumspect. 2. meticulous, discerning. 3. conscientious. 4. thoughtful, concerned, solicitous, attentive, heedful, regardful.

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.


1–4. careless.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for carefully


  1. cautious in attitude or action; prudent
  2. painstaking in one's work; thoroughhe wrote very careful script
  3. (usually postpositive; foll by of, in, or about) solicitous; protectivecareful of one's reputation
  4. archaic full of care; anxious
  5. British mean or miserly
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Derived Formscarefully, adverbcarefulness, 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 carefully


Old English carful-lice; see careful + -ly (2).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper