What Does Careful Not to Do Something Mean?

Careful Not to Do Something Meaning

Definition: To avoid or try to avoid doing a certain activity.

People may caution you to be careful not to do something. This means that they want you to avoid the particular activity about which they are talking.

Most often, if someone warns another to be careful not to do something, that activity is dangerous or could cause physical harm. At other times, if someone warns another to be careful not to do something, that activity may be rude to others. Either way, you should not do anything that someone warns you to be careful not to do.

Origin of Careful Not to Do Something

define careful not toA synonym for the word careful is cautious. Therefore, if you are being careful, you are being certain that you are going about things in a safe manner. This word has been in use in its current form since around 1000 A.D. Before this, the forms carful and cearful were Old English words used to mean the same thing.

This phrase may also be written or spoken with the words slightly moved around, as in the phrase be careful to not do that or simply be careful.

Examples of Careful Not to Do Something

be careful not toImagine you are in a busy kitchen with many cooks moving about. One cook may set a bowl full of food on the edge of a counter top and tell others,

  • Be careful not to hit the counter too hard! My bowl may fall over.

This example is a warning and a consequence for not following the warning.

In another example, two people are talking about how to approach a friend with bad news.

One may say,

  • Be careful not to tell him too suddenly. He is very sensitive.

This advice means to build up the information presented slowly.

More Examples

  • You should use the card lightly but regularly, being careful not to charge more than about 30% of its credit limit and paying the balance in full each month. –LA Times
  • Even with this most limited diet, her parents have to be careful not tooverdo it. –Indianapolis Star

Summary

To be careful not to do something is to try to avoid doing that activity.