a measure taken in advance to avert possible evil or to secure good results.
caution employed beforehand; prudent foresight.

verb (used with object)

to forewarn; put on guard.

Origin of precaution

First recorded in 1595–1605, precaution is from the Late Latin word praecautiōn- (stem of praecautiō). See pre-, caution
Related formsun·pre·cau·tioned, adjective

Synonyms for precaution Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for precaution

Contemporary Examples of precaution

Historical Examples of precaution

  • (b) What precaution should be taken in the use of flavorings?

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3

    Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

  • Only she ought to have told him of the precaution she had taken.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • This was a precaution we always took, on account of the craft's being so tender.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Where the forbidden thing is, no precaution can be too great.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Just by way of precaution, however, I'll ask you to wait in here till I'm off.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

British Dictionary definitions for precaution



an action taken to avoid a dangerous or undesirable event
caution practised beforehand; circumspection
Derived Formsprecautionary or precautional, adjectiveprecautious, adjective

Word Origin for precaution

C17: from French, from Late Latin praecautiō, from Latin praecavēre to guard against, from prae before + cavēre to beware
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 precaution

c.1600, from French précaution (16c.) and directly from Late Latin praecautionem (nominative praecautio) "a safeguarding," from past participle stem of Latin praecavere "to guard against beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + cavere "to be one's own guard" (see caution (n.)). The verb meaning "to warn (someone) in advance" is from c.1700.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper