careful (adj.)

Old English cearful "mournful, sad," also "full of care or woe; anxious; full of concern" (for someone or something), thus "applying attention, painstaking, circumspect" (late Old English), the main modern sense; from care (n.) + -ful. In Middle English also "miserable, unfortunate," of persons or things; "causing fear, frightening, terrible." Careful-bed (early 14c.) was "sick-bed;" careful-day (c. 1200) was "judgment day."

Dragons dryfes doun
With kene carefull crie.
["The Wars of Alexander," c. 1400]

updated on September 29, 2018

Definitions of careful from WordNet

careful (adj.)
exercising caution or showing care or attention;
did very careful research
careful about one's behavior
careful art restorers
they were careful when crossing the busy street
be careful to keep her shoes clean
careful of the rights of others
careful (adj.)
cautiously attentive;
careful of her feelings
Synonyms: heedful
careful (adj.)
unhurried and with care and dignity;
Synonyms: deliberate / measured
careful (adj.)
full of cares or anxiety; "Thou art careful and troubled about many things"-Luke 10.41;
careful (adj.)
mindful of the future in spending money;
careful with money
Synonyms: thrifty
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.