View synonyms for precaution


[ pri-kaw-shuhn ]


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

    Synonyms: circumspection, prudence, forethought

verb (used with object)

  1. to forewarn; put on guard.


/ prɪˈkɔːʃən /


  1. an action taken to avoid a dangerous or undesirable event
  2. caution practised beforehand; circumspection

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Derived Forms

  • preˈcautious, adjective
  • preˈcautionary, adjective

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Other Words From

  • unpre·cautioned adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of precaution1

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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of precaution1

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

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Example Sentences

In Chinatown, she urged people to take precautions and to be vigilant.

The measure was taken partly as a precaution for the health of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

From Vox

Getting on an airplane, he postulated, was not something consumers would be ready to do for a long time, leaving travel plans to be dictated more by safety precautions than whimsy.

From Fortune

Overall, business execs say that approaching an in person meeting with transparency as well as setting the stage for the kinds of precautions that will happen once in person is key.

From Digiday

Given the opportunity to test and find out that an asymptomatic contact is positive is always preferable, she said, because people are more likely to take precautions and isolate properly, particularly around family members.

As a precaution against a possible disturbance, the ferry was escorted by a police boat, its blue lights flashing.

The jacket and gloves were a precaution in the event the eaglet panicked, but there was little fuss as he tossed the net over her.

As a precaution, they have been placed on a 21-day fever watch.

But, the precaution falls flat on the upper floors of thin-walled barracks.

DePree said Marble Collegiate sometimes takes another flu-season precaution.

Why did he not exercise more precaution when investigating anything so suspicious as a concealed fire?

Every precaution was taken by Colonel Guitar to guard against a night attack, but his little army was allowed to rest in peace.

And I had already taken the precaution of retaining the best legal counsel in the city.

A man at all easy in his circumstances would spare himself much annoyance by taking the above simple precaution.

Indeed, you would not have taken the precaution, which you did at the moment of my arrest, of searching me to find firearms.


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More About Precaution

What does precaution mean?

A precaution is an action taken in advance to prevent something negative from happening or to lessen the impact of the negative thing if it does happen.

This sense of precaution is often used with the verb take, as in take precautions or take every precaution. 

Precaution can also refer to caution in advance of something (which leads one to take such precautions).

It can also be used as a verb meaning to warn. However, this is uncommon. The verb caution is more commonly used to mean this.

Precaution has two adjective forms: precautious, meaning being careful by actively preparing to avoid something negative, and precautionary, which is used to describe things done as a precaution, as in precautionary measures. 

Example: Officials said they have taken every available precaution to secure the city in advance of the storm.

Where does precaution come from?

The first records of the word precaution come from around 1600. Precaution combines the prefix pre, meaning “before,” with the noun caution (alertness or care in what could be a bad situation).

So how is precaution different from caution? The key difference is the pre-. Precaution implies action taken before something actually happens. A person using caution is being careful, especially in general or during a dangerous situation. A person taking precautions has anticipated something negative and is doing something to prepare so that it doesn’t happen or that it won’t be quite as bad if it does. A person boarding up windows before a hurricane hits is taking precautions. A person who always prepares for the worst case scenario has a sense of precaution.

When used in the phrase just a precaution, the word often implies that the bad thing probably won’t happen, and that the precaution has been taken to be extra careful.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to precaution

What are some synonyms for precaution

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

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

How is precaution used in real life?

Precaution is most often used in the context of serious situations that involve real danger.



Try using precaution!

Which of the following examples refers to an action that would be considered a precaution?

A. Stepping carefully across a rickety bridge.
B. Putting on a life jacket before going on a boat.
C. Charging wildly into battle without a plan.

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