The meaning of caveat in Oxford Dictionaries is "warning or proviso of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations.""

In Etymology Dictionary "warning, hint of caution," 1550s, Latin, literally "let him beware," 3rd person singular present subjunctive of cavere "to beware, take heed, watch, guard against," from PIE root *keu- "to see, observe, perceive." Legal sense "public warning preventing some action" is from 1650s.

Mid 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘let a person beware’.

There's no literal similarity from its origin,how to understand literally?


It most likely comes from the common legal phrase caveat emptor, which is Latin for "let the buyer beware", which in many countries is a formal doctrine, meaning that the buyer of a product or service is responsible for making sure what they are purchasing is of good quality before purchasing it - in other words, a warning that if they fail to do so, the fault lies with the buyer.

From there, it probably entered into common English, with "caveat" meaning "a warning similar to caveat emptor". This process of generalization of a term (moving from a specific meaning to a wider, more general meaning) is often encountered in the etymology (the origin of the meaning of words) of English words. It is this sense that gives the meaning of a "warning" or "public warning" described.

(For the record, increasing consumer protections mean that the doctrine of caveat emptor is becoming obsolete in many countries; the phrase, however, is still going strong)

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