[ kaw-shuhs ]
/ ˈkɔ ʃəs /
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See synonyms for: cautious / cautiously / cautiousness on Thesaurus.com

showing, using, or characterized by caution: a cautious man; To be cautious is often to show wisdom.
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Origin of cautious

First recorded in 1630–40; cauti(on) + -ous

synonym study for cautious

See careful.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does cautious mean?

Cautious describes using, showing, or characterized by caution, which means a wariness in a dangerous situation, as in Vikram was a cautious man who never jumped straight into things. 

Cautious is often used to describe the behavior of a person who is concerned about impending danger or possible misfortune. If you are cautious, you are showing care or hesitation before taking an action.

Cautious is also used in warnings, as in You should be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. 

The adverb form of cautious is cautiously, as in Shontel cautiously approached the rickety bridge. 

The noun form of cautious is cautiousness, as in They reacted with cautiousness to the suspicious man’s generosity. 

Example: It is a good idea to be cautious when signing contracts and consider your options first. 

Where does cautious come from?

The first records of cautious come from around 1630. It is an adjective formed from the noun caution, meaning “alertness and prudence,” and the suffix -ous, which forms adjectives that have a sense of “possessing, full of.” Cautious most often refers to someone who shows or is motivated by caution.

Cautious is a pretty common word because life often throws unexpected hazards at us. You can use cautious when you have a specific reason to be wary or to expect that something bad might happen. People are cautious of outright dangerous things, such as wild animals or open flames, as well as risky situations, such as investing their money.

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What are some other forms related to cautious?

  • cautiously (adverb)
  • cautiousness (noun)
  • hypercautious (adjective)
  • hypercautiously (adverb)

What are some synonyms for cautious?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cautious

What are some words that often get used in discussing cautious?

How is cautious used in real life?

Cautious is a common word that people use when they have misgivings or fear about possible danger.

Try using cautious!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of cautious?

A. careful
B. unconcerned
C. wary
D. vigilant

How to use cautious in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cautious

/ (ˈkɔːʃəs) /

showing or having caution; wary; prudent

Derived forms of cautious

cautiously, 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