adjective careful: having or showing care, thoughtfulness, restraint, and lack of haste [Mid-17th century. < caution] -cau·tious·ly, adverb -cau·tious·ness, noun Word Key: Synonyms cautious, careful, chary, circumspect, prudent, vigilant, wary, guarded, cagey, CORE MEANING: showing care or restraint cautious having or showing care, thoughtfulness, restraint, and lack of haste; his cautious approach to economic reform Years of army training had taught him to be cautious when faced with an unknown situation.careful taking reasonable care to avoid risks; Be very careful when you withdraw money from an ATM. I was extra careful not to make any mistakes.chary cautiously reluctant to act; Why had Janet been so chary of telling the simple truth?circumspect taking into consideration all possible circumstances and consequences before acting; Both men offered only circumspect answers to my question. Officials were understandably circumspect about the incident.prudent using good judgment to consider likely consequences and act accordingly; prudent financial planning for foreseeable expenses It's certainly prudent to use sunscreen if you are out in the midday sun.vigilant watchful and alert, especially to guard against danger, difficulties, or errors; Doctors are urging the public to be vigilant about the killer virus. A vigilant neighbor foiled the attempted burglary.wary showing watchfulness or suspicion; She was always wary of dogs. People were becoming more wary about voicing their opinions in public.guarded reluctant to share information with others; Her responses to the questions were heavily guarded. His voice was guarded, with a deliberate note of skepticism.cagey (informal) secretive and refusing to be open, frank, or direct; She was cagey about why she had rejected the offer. Asked about his recent career, he remained cagey.