from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Showing or practicing caution; careful.
  • adj. Tentative or restrained; guarded: felt a cautious optimism that the offer would be accepted.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. careful; using or exercising caution; tentative

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Attentive to examine probable effects and consequences of acts with a view to avoid danger or misfortune; prudent; circumspect; wary; watchful.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Possessing or exhibiting caution; attentive to probable effects and consequences of actions with a view to avoid danger or misfortune; prudent; circumspect; wary; watchful: as, a cautious general; a cautious advance.
  • With of before the object of caution: wary in regard to the risks of; afraid or heedful of the dangers involved in.
  • Over-prudent; timorous; timid.
  • Synonyms Prudent, careful, wary, vigilant, heedful, thoughtful, scrupulous.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. avoiding excess
  • adj. showing careful forethought
  • n. people who are fearful and cautious


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Henry watched amazed as Burgess checked that no one else could see them, his expression cautious and watchful.

    The Master

  • A shrink had once told him to use the word cautious because of the negative connotations associated with the word paranoid, but Rapp had only laughed.

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  • We use the term cautious optimism to account for the mix of factors that each of our customers is weighing slightly differently. Home Page

  • MCINTYRE: General Richards 'assessment for the future is peppered with a lot of what he calls cautious optimism.

    CNN Transcript Oct 18, 2006

  • There continues to be what I call a cautious view moving forward and you've heard us talk about the bunker mentality.

  • Campaign 2000 refers to what it calls "cautious optimism" in describing some provincial efforts to tackle child and family poverty.

    CBC | Top Stories News

  • While Kroger offered what it called cautious full-year earnings guidance below analysts 'expectations, it did not appear to curtail investors' enthusiasm.


  • But "cautious" is the operative word -- especially now that academia is throwing open its doors and welcoming in the barbarians at the gate.

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  • Australia's major banks are experiencing record profitability, but their most recent financial progress updates indicate earnings growth is slowing as small businesses remain cautious, hoarding cash rather than risking expansion.

    Australian Banks More Likely to Raise Rates

  • Many retailers remain cautious about opening additional stores until the broader economy shows more strength.

    Malls Begin Healing Process


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