Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Skillful in trickery or deception; cunning, wily.
  • adj. Cautious, careful.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Caution; prudent; wary.
  • adj. Crafty; deceitful; false.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Cautious; wary; provident: as, “cautelous though young,”
  • Cunning; treacherous; wily.

Etymologies

From Middle French cauteleux. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • It's an odd pair of definitions for this word. It could serve to characterize both the grifter and his elusive quarry.

    A cautelous is a wily man
    And cautelous too if wary.
    He’s certain to deceive himself
    And find that very scary.

    March 11, 2014

  • "Believe't not lightly,--though I go alone,
    Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
    Makes fear'd and talk'd of more than seen,--your son
    Will or exceed the common or be caught
    With cautelous baits and practice."
    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 28, 2009