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In its original sense, the noun caveat means a warning or caution. It comes from Latin, where it means, literally, let him beware. Caveat did not originally mean a qualification, condition, or limitation, but this newer sense is well-established, even if it hasn’t fully supplanted the older one.


Examples of caveat used as a synonym of qualification or limitation abound in publications from throughout the English-speaking world—for example:

The scheme’s major caveat is that it’s only open to those households which have already installed top-notch levels of insulation. [Guardian]

The big caveat, though, is that the link does not prove that tea or coffee, themselves, are the reason for the lower risk. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Another caveat is that I don’t think there are any great hotels or resorts in the Bahamas, or the potential for them to exist. [Forbes]

But some still use caveat in its older sense, to mean a warning or caution—for example:

One caveat though: if intending to fish for records or in game fishing competitions, make sure you use a line that is IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) rated. []

And, a caveat about circles: it seems like it’s only a matter of time until something someone meant to share with friends only goes public. [Vancouver Sun]

A caveat: Availability of the fares is limited and subject to change. [USA Today]