American English

Definition of careful adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[not before noun] giving attention or thought to what you are doing so that you avoid hurting yourself, damaging something, or doing something wrong Be careful! careful to do something He was careful to keep out of sight. careful not to do something Be careful not to wake the baby. careful when/what/how, etc. You need to be careful when handling chemicals. Be careful what you say. careful of/about/with something Be careful of the traffic. Please be careful with my glasses (= Don't break them). I'm very careful about washing my hands before eating (= I make sure I do it). careful (that)… Be careful you don't bump your head. Which Word?cautious / careful A cautious person is nervous that something may be dangerous or unwise, so they do it only very slowly or after a lot of thought. (antonym =reckless) A careful person is not nervous but does take extra care to make sure that everything is correct or nothing goes wrong. (antonym =careless)Notice also: Be careful/Use caution when you drive on icy roads. Caution/Warning — thin ice.
  2. 2giving a lot of attention to details a careful piece of work a careful examination of the facts After careful consideration, we have decided to offer you the job. opposite careless
  3. Word Familycare noun verbcareful adjective (careless)carefully adverb (carelessly)caring adjective (uncaring)Idioms
    careful with money
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    not spending money on unimportant things His mother had always been careful with money.
    you can't be too careful
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    used to warn someone that they should take care to avoid danger or problems Don't stay out in the sun for too long—you can't be too careful.
adverb Please listen carefully. She put the glass down carefully. Drive carefully. opposite
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noun [uncountable]
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: careful