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From Middle English careles, from Old English carlēas (careless, reckless, void of care, free from care, free), equivalent to care +‎ -less.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkɛəlɪs/, /ˈkɛələs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛə(ɹ)ləs


careless (comparative more careless, superlative most careless)

  1. Not concerned or worried (about). [from 11thc.]
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter IV, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      "He was here," observed Drina composedly, "and father was angry with him." ¶ "What?" exclaimed Eileen. "When?" ¶ "This morning, before father went downtown." ¶ Both Selwyn and Lansing cut in coolly, dismissing the matter with a careless word or two; and coffee was served—cambric tea in Drina's case.
  2. Not giving sufficient attention or thought, especially concerning the avoidance of harm or mistakes. [from 16thc.]
    Jessica was so careless that she put her shorts on backwards.
  3. (archaic) Free from care; unworried, without anxiety. [from 11thc.]
    • 1851 October 18, Herman Melville, chapter 27, in The Whale, 1st British edition, London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 14262177; Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, 14 November 1851, OCLC 57395299:
      Good-humored, easy, and careless, he presided over his whale-boat as if the most deadly encounter were but a dinner, and his crew all invited guests.


Derived terms[edit]


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