Webster 1913 Edition



let him beware, pres. subj. of
to be on one’s guard to, beware.]
A notice given by an interested party to some officer not to do a certain act until the party is heard in opposition;
as, a
entered in a probate court to stop the proving of a will or the taking out of letters of administration, etc.
(U. S. Patent Laws)
A description of some invention, designed to be patented, lodged in the patent office before the patent right is applied for, and operating as a bar to the issue of letters patent to any other person, respecting the same invention.
☞ A caveat is operative for one year only, but may be renewed.
Intimation of caution; warning; protest.
We think it right to enter our
against a conclusion.
Caveat emptor
let the purchaser beware, i. e., let him examine the article he is buying, and act on his own judgment.

Webster 1828 Edition



In law, a process in a court, especially in a spiritual court, to stop proceedings, as to stop the proving of a will; also to prevent the institution of a clerk to a benefice.
In America, it is used in courts of common law.
Intimation of caution; hint; warning; admonition.


To enter a caveat.

Definition 2024





caveat (plural caveats)

  1. a warning
    • 1986 March 9, Roy Blount Jr., "Able Were They Ere They Saw Cable", New York Times:
      Two young Harvard M.B.A.'s worked up some highly optimistic projections -- with the caveat that these were speculative and should of course be tested.
  2. a qualification or exemption
    He gave his daughter some hyacinth bulbs with the caveat that she plant them in the shade.
    • 2014, Jamie Jackson, "Ángel di María says Manchester United were the ‘only club’ after Real", The Guardian, 26 August 2014:
      If a midfielder and a defender are acquired by 1 September then Louis van Gaal will consider United’s summer in the market almost a success. The one caveat is that the Dutchman wished to have finished strengthening the squad before the start of the season.
  3. (law) a notice requesting a postponement of a court proceeding
  4. (law) a formal notice of interest in land, under a Torrens land-title system



caveat (third-person singular simple present caveats, present participle caveating, simple past and past participle caveated)

  1. To qualify a particular statement with a proviso or caveat
    • 1996, Raymond M. Saunders, Blood Tells: A Thriller, page 217:
      I want to caveat everything I say with the disclaimer that I was working from photos.
  2. (law) To lodge a formal notice of interest in land, under a Torrens land-title system
    • 2005, Geoff Moore, Essential Real Property, ISBN 1876905174, page 93:
      It is unclear whether or not a purchaser upon exchange of contracts will be regarded as guilty of postponing conduct if failing to caveat.
  3. (law, dated) To issue a notice requesting that proceedings be suspended
    • 1840, T.P. Devereux & W.H. Battle, “Gee v. Gee & Tunstall”, in Reports of cases in equity, argued and determined before the Supreme Court of North Carolina, page 108:
      The answer further alleged that the intestate, in right of his wife, caveated the probate in Virginia of the will of one William Hill, her relation []
    • 1913, December 6, Probate Court[Sydney Morning Herald], page 5:
      The defendant, father of the testator, had caveated against granting of probate on the ground that the will not duly executed, []
  4. (obsolete) To warn or caution against some event
    • 1663, John Scott, “Captain John Scott to Under Secr'y William.”, in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, volume 3, published 1853, page 48:
      I beseach you to caveat any addresse being fully heard until some person commissioned from this Countrey be their to confront the sayd Dutch or their complices.
    • 1825, John Jamieson, Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, volume 1, page 210:
      This last expression minds me to caveat the Reader, not to be angry at Helebore because it's called Christmas flowre; []

Derived terms

Related terms

Usage notes

  • The modern use of "caveat" as a verb meaning "to qualify with a proviso" is often considered awkward or improper. This usage is strongly associated with former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig.
    • **, 1981, Jim Quinn, page The Nation:
      Brzezinski never used caveat as a verb. Does that make him better than Haig?
    • **, 1993, Robert McCrum et al., 2002 ed. edition, page 43:
      Some years ago, General Alexander Haig [] was widely criticized (and parodied) for using nouns as verbs in a highly idiosyncratic way, known as Haigspeak: phrases like 'I'll have to caveat my response, Senator, and I'll caveat that', [] From one point of view, however, Haig was merely displaying the virtuosity of English, if not its grace.
    • **, 2003, William A. McIntosh[Guide to Effective Military Writing], page 59:
      Using words such as "caveat," "resource," and "interface" as verbs is not only poor style, but also poor usage. They are nouns, not verbs, and they shouldn't be used as if they were.

See also







  1. third-person singular present active subjunctive of caveō