cautious


cautious
cautious, circumspect, wary, chary, calculating are comparable when meaning prudently attentive to the dangers one may encounter or the risks one may face, or revealing such attendveness. The same differences in implications and connotations are apparent in the nouns caution, circumspection, wariness, chariness, calculation when they denote the quality of the character or the mental processes of one who is so attentive.
Cautious and caution usually imply both the prompting of fear, especially of fear of failure or of harm to oneself or others, and the exercise of forethought in planning or of prudence in proceeding so that the dangers of failure or the risks of disaster may be avoided or minimized
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the troops advanced with great caution

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a cautious investor

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for the most part, he generalizes with a sobriety and a caution worthy of the highest praise— Huxley

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the old man, cautious in all his movements, always acting as if surrounded by invisible spies, delayed setting out until an hour after dark— Hudson

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Circumspect and circumspection frequently imply less fear than cautious and caution; commonly, however, they suggest the exercise of great prudence and discretion, especially in making decisions or in acting, and the surveying of all possible consequences, lest moral, social, business, or political harm may inadvertently occur
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and in all things that I have said unto you be circum-spectExod 23:13

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they do not live very happy lives, for they even more than the others are restricted in their movements, and they must live the most circumspect of lives— Steinbeck

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the . . . circumspection with which it approaches the consideration of such questions— John Marshall

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Wary and wariness usually carry a far stronger suggestion of suspiciousness than cautious and caution and sometimes, as a result, connote less well-grounded fear. Often, also, the terms imply alertness in watching out for difficulties or dangers or cunning in escaping them
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they . . . had a wary eye for all gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out of their road to avoid any very excited group of talkers— Dickens

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we must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the "ism" of appeasement— Roosevelt

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our domestic dogs are descended from wolves . . . they may not have gained in cunning, and may have lost in warinessDarwin

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Chary and chariness imply the cautiousness of those who are careful of what they have or what they can give, say, or do and proceed with great reserve or discretion
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I am chary of admitting native differences between the sexes, but I think that girls are less prone than boys to punish oddity by serious physical cruelty— Russell

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my business experience has taught me to be chary of committing anything of a confidential nature to any more concrete medium than speech— Faulkner

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there was no fastidious overrefined chariness in the use of that name— F. W. Robertson

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Calculating and calculation imply the caution of one who carefully and deliberately plans the way to attain his own and often selfish end taking into account every possible danger and the way in which it can be met
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some day the American boy's outlook upon the future may be as clear and calculating as that of his European brother— Grandgent

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only in regard to la France do they [the French] permit themselves illusions. Only here does sentiment triumph freely and completely over calculationBrownell

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The suggestion of selfish prudence that disregards the cruelty of the means, provided the end is attained, is often so strong in these words that the implication of cautiousness is lost and that of coldhearted scheming or of deliberate cruelty takes its place
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the terrible men are the men who do everything in cold blood, icily, with calculationHearn

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Analogous words: *watchful, vigilant, alert: prudent, provident, fore-sighted, forethoughtful, discreet (see under PRUDENCE): heedful, careful (see negative adjectives at CARELESS)
Antonyms: adventurous, temerarious
Contrasted words: venturesome, daring, rash, reckless, foolhardy (see ADVENTUROUS): *precipitate, impetuous, headlong

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cautious — cau‧tious [ˈkɔːʆəs ǁ ˈkɒː ] adjective if buyers or investors are cautious, they are unwilling to buy because they feel uncertain about the future: • Seoul investors turned cautious about the market s rapid rises last week, and share prices ended… …   Financial and business terms

  • Cautious — Cau tious, a. [Cf. L. cautus, fr. caver. See {Caution}.] Attentive to examine probable effects and consequences of acts with a view to avoid danger or misfortune; prudent; circumspect; wary; watchful; as, a cautious general. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cautious — index careful, circumspect, deliberate, diffident, discreet, frugal, guarded, hesitant, judicious …   Law dictionary

  • cautious — mid 17c., from CAUTION (Cf. caution) + OUS (Cf. ous). The Latin word for this was cautus careful, heedful. Related: Cautiously …   Etymology dictionary

  • cautious — [adj] careful, guarded alert, all ears*, cagey, calculating, chary, circumspect, considerate, discreet, forethoughtful, gingerly, hedging one’s bets*, heedful, judicious, keeping on one’s toes*, leery, on the lookout*, playing it cool*, playing… …   New thesaurus

  • cautious — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ careful to avoid potential problems or dangers. DERIVATIVES cautiously adverb cautiousness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • cautious — [kô′shəs] adj. full of caution; careful to avoid danger; circumspect; wary SYN. CAREFUL cautiously adv. cautiousness n …   English World dictionary

  • cautious — adj. 1) cautious about, of (he was cautious about committing himself; she was cautious of strangers) 2) cautious in (cautious in using firearms) 3) cautious with (be cautious with them) * * * [ kɔːʃəs] of (he was cautious about committing… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • cautious — 01. Scientists have to be very [cautious] in applying this new cloning technology. 02. Don t worry, he s a very [cautious] driver. 03. The sign said, Men at work on highway, proceed with [caution]. 04. Extreme [caution] should be taken when… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • cautious — adjective Date: 1614 marked by or given to caution < cautious investors > < cautious optimism > • cautiously adverb • cautiousness noun Synonyms: cautious, circumspect, wary, chary mean …   New Collegiate Dictionary


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