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[kair-fuh l] /ˌkɛər fəl/
cautious in one's actions:
Be careful when you cross the street.
taking pains in one's work; exact; thorough:
a careful typist.
(of things) done or performed with accuracy or caution:
careful research.
solicitously mindful (usually followed by of, about, or in):
careful of the rights of others; careful about one's behavior; careful in speech.
  1. troubled.
  2. attended with anxiety.
Origin of careful
before 1000; Middle English; Old English carful, cearful. See care, -ful
Related forms
carefully, adverb
carefulness, noun
quasi-careful, adjective
quasi-carefully, adverb
ultracareful, adjective
ultracarefully, adverb
1. watchful, guarded, chary, circumspect. 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. meticulous, discerning. 2, 3. See painstaking. 3. conscientious. 4. thoughtful, concerned, solicitous, attentive, heedful, regardful.
1–4. careless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for carefulness
Historical Examples
  • She must exercise a carefulness concerning her conversation, and that of her gossips, too, which destroyed both zest and freedom.

  • She could not tell whether it was the barrenness of the room, or Milt's carefulness, that caught her.

    Free Air Sinclair Lewis
  • He calculated with carefulness our material capacities for expansion in power and wealth.

  • This was to teach her foresight and carefulness, her father said.

    A Missionary Twig Emma L. Burnett
  • They were told to go about their daily tasks without fear or carefulness.

    The Pacification of Burma Sir Charles Haukes Todd Crosthwaite
  • A sudden instinct for carefulness had prompted him to make that request.

    Murder Point Coningsby Dawson
  • The stairs had cracked and squeaked, notwithstanding his carefulness in stepping.

    Shadow, the Mysterious Detective Police Captain Howard
  • Then the carefulness relaxed, as it was bound to do, and some mistakes occurred.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • My reason for this kind of carelessness, or carefulness, was, that I could always get something to eat when I went there.

  • When I see a man intent on carefulness, I praise and do my best to honour him.

    The Economist Xenophon
British Dictionary definitions for carefulness


cautious in attitude or action; prudent
painstaking in one's work; thorough: he wrote very careful script
(usually postpositive; foll by of, in, or about) solicitous; protective: careful of one's reputation
(archaic) full of care; anxious
(Brit) mean or miserly
Derived Forms
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
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Word Origin and History for carefulness

Old English carfulnys; see careful + -ness.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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