1. An action taken in advance to protect against possible danger, failure, or injury; a safeguard: followed safety precautions when using heavy machinery.
2. Caution practiced in advance; forethought or circumspection: a need for precaution when planning a vacation.
[Late Latin praecautiō, praecautiōn-, from praecautus, past participle of Latin praecavēre, to guard against : prae-, pre- + cavēre, to beware.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.