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Latin caution-, cautio precaution, from cavēre to be on one's guard. French caution security, surety < Latin cautiōn-em taking heed, heedfulness, caution; bond, security, < caut- participial stem of cavēre to beware, take heed. The earlier uses were as in French; it was only in 16–17th cent. that the original Latin sense, as a quality, was introduced


  • 1: warning, admonishment
  • 2: precaution
  • 3: prudent forethought to minimize risk
  • 4: one that astonishes or commands attention <some shoes you see … these days are a caution — Esquire>
  • 5: The taking of heed; ‘provident care, wariness against evil’ (Johnson), as a kind or quality of conduct; cautiousness, heedfulness, circumspectness, prudence in regard to danger.


In United States safety standards, precautionary statements are sentences providing information on potential hazards, and proper procedures. They are used in situations from consumer product on labels and manuals, to descriptions of physical activities. Various methods are used to bring focus to them, such as setting apart from normal text, graphic icons, changes in text's font and color. Texts will often clarify the types of statements and their meanings within the text.