She carefully/cautiously stepped back to the body, grabbed the gun, and ran out of the room.

I can't figure out if I should use "carefully" or "cautiously" in this context. Are they interchangeably in this context?

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    When you do something carefully, you're doing it attentively, conscientiously for some reason. Perhaps what you're doing is writing a love poem to your intended, and it's really important that you do a good job, so as to make a good impression on her. If you do something cautiously, you'll also be taking a lot of care - but your reason for being cautious is you're scared of the consequences of getting it wrong. You could establish that distinction using any online dictionary. Jan 21, 2021 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


You could use either in this case, but there are slight differences between them.

"Carefully" means with care (i.e. ensuring the task is done well). It often implies with caution or awareness.

"Cautiously" means with caution or awareness (i.e. attention to one's surroundings and the task at hand) and often implies reservation and care.

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