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[pri-kaw-shuh n] /prɪˈkɔ ʃən/
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
1595-1605; < Late Latin praecautiōn- (stem of praecautiō). See pre-, caution
Related forms
unprecautioned, adjective
2. forethought, prudence, circumspection. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for precaution
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The first precaution that the corporal had taken was to disarm and bind his prisoners.

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

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • But for this precaution, we should have been in danger of losing our horses and mules entirely.

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

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Thus Macquart did not even take the precaution to have the gates shut.

British Dictionary definitions for precaution


an action taken to avoid a dangerous or undesirable event
caution practised beforehand; circumspection
Derived Forms
precautionary, precautional, adjective
precautious, adjective
Word Origin
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
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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
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