1. Attentive to potential danger, error, or harm; cautious: was careful when crossing the street; a careful answer.
2. Thorough and painstaking in action or execution; conscientious: a careful search; careful art restorers.
3. Protective; solicitous: Be careful of his feelings.
4. Full of cares or anxiety: "Thou art careful and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41).
Synonyms: careful, alert, attentive, heedful, mindful, vigilant, watchful
These adjectives mean giving close or cautious attention: were careful not to get their shoes muddy; alert to any change in the patient's condition; attentive to her driving; heedful of potential danger; mindful of his health; a vigilant customs official; a watchful babysitter. See Also Synonyms at meticulous.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.