Study Words

What’s a “caveat” and how can you use it?

Need some help using that complicated English vocabulary? Here's a short article to help explain the word "caveat" with real life examples.

Caveat – (n.) a warning concerning specific conditions, limitations, or stipulations

[kav-ee-aht, -at, kah-vee-, key-]

Caveat is a word taken straight from Latin, meaning literally “let him/her beware”. While originally was used as a verb, it tends to be quite awkward sounding in English if we use it as a verb.

We often use caveat near the end of a sentence or statement as a way to describe a potential negative case for an argument or idea. Let’s look at a few examples of it in use.

Here’s one use of spin-off from Business Insider about ways to make your schedule less stressful using a field of economics called “behavioral economics” using an idea called “cancel elation”:

“Ask yourself how you would feel if you accepted an invitation and then found out it had been canceled.”

There is an important caveat to this trick. You probably shouldn’t use it at the office

Here’s another example from Bloomberg News, discussing U.S. stocks being overvalued:

Stocks don’t have to collapse from current levels, but it’s always a possibility. The comfort of cash sounds like an intelligent strategy, but there are two caveats.

You might see caveat used in the following:

Caveat emptor — (expression) this is another Latin phrase meaning “let the buyer beware”. Often used as a warning to anyone buying something that might have unforeseen issues or problems.
Caveat loan — (phrasal noun) an amount of money loaned or borrowed for a short time to cover expenses until new funds become available. Similar meaning to bridge loan

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