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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
  • It was also announced that other people who work on that floor would be treated with antibiotics as a precaution.
  • They are voices advocating precaution instead of poorly understood data.
  • It's surprisingly neat, but working in a deep bowl is still a wise precaution.
  • Some might see the brief as a dose of healthy precaution.
  • Applying that degree of precaution to a car-even an expensive car-would, at present prices, cost far too much.
  • But the worker is worker there without any precaution to this hazards.
  • Production units at the refinery near the blaze were shut as a precaution.
  • So the best precaution you can take in a fire-prone area is to make your roof fire-resistant.
  • As the hypothesis of a risk cannot be entirely excluded, precaution is justified.
  • Eleven students who roomed in the building are confined, and every precaution is being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
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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