"Err on the side of caution" is a popular idiom used in various contexts to suggest that one should take a safer, more cautious decision or approach, particularly when the outcome is uncertain or potentially risky.
"Err on the side of caution" advises a person to choose a safer or more cautious option in case of doubt or uncertainty.
The phrase "err on the side of caution" essentially means to act in the safest possible way in a given situation or to make the most cautious choice when in doubt. This idiom is often used when there is uncertainty or potential risk, encouraging the person to take a decision or action that minimizes any possible negative consequences.
Key aspects of the idiom's meaning include:
This phrase is versatile and can be applied in a wide range of contexts, from personal decisions to business strategy, medical advice, or even environmental policies.
The idiom "err on the side of caution" traces its origins back to the Old French term "errer," which emerged around the year 1300 and meant 'to make a mistake.' This interpretation of "err" was first noted in a publication in 1678, specifically in the book "Of the Heart, and its Right to Soveraign" by Thomas Jones. From the 17th to the 18th century, this phrase was frequently used and continues to be a part of everyday conversation. Interestingly, its popularity seemed to surge in the 20th century, particularly from 1986 onwards.
"The great risk of failure is from the occurrence of inflammation; and in a matter of so much consequence, it is better to err on the side of caution."
- A Treatise on the Diseases of the Eye, Sir William Lawrence, 1833
Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:
The phrase frequently appears in movies, television shows, news reports, and literature.
Some examples include:
There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar sentiment to "err on the side of caution."
Some of these include:
"Err on the side of caution" can be both formal and informal. It is commonly used in a variety of situations, from casual conversations to more formal discussions or presentations.
Yes, "err on the side of caution" is often used in business contexts to suggest a conservative approach or strategy, especially when dealing with uncertain or risky situations.
Yes, "err on the side of caution" can be used in both spoken and written communication. It can be found in emails, reports, articles, and other forms of written content.
While the specific phrase "err on the side of caution" is predominantly used in English-speaking cultures, the concept of being cautious in the face of uncertainty is universally understood across many cultures, though the exact wording may differ.
Yes, "err on the side of caution" is frequently used in medical contexts to suggest a conservative approach to diagnosis, treatment, or preventive measures, especially when there is uncertainty or potential risk involved.
Yes, "err on the side of caution" is often used when giving advice, especially when suggesting that someone should take a safer or more cautious approach in a situation.
Yes, the phrase can be used in a variety of contexts, including personal situations like decision-making in everyday life, travel plans, or health-related decisions.
"Err on the side of caution" is commonly used in situations that involve potential risk or uncertainty, but it can also be used in any situation where a cautious approach is considered beneficial.
Yes, "err on the side of caution" can be used to advise someone to take a cautious approach in planning or making decisions about future actions or events.
Yes, "err on the side of caution" can be used even if there's no immediate danger. It's a phrase that recommends a cautious approach to prevent possible harm or unfavorable outcomes in the future.
To wrap up, the idiom "err on the side of caution" is a widely used expression to suggest a cautious approach when faced with uncertainty or potential risk. It can be applied across a range of contexts, from casual to formal and from personal to professional scenarios.
Key aspects of the phrase:
While the phrase is adaptable and widely recognized, it's important to use it appropriately considering the context. "Err on the side of caution" is prudent advice. But it's always essential to balance caution with courage and initiative when making decisions.