err on the side of caution

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err on the side of caution (third-person singular simple present errs on the side of caution, present participle erring on the side of caution, simple past and past participle erred on the side of caution)

  1. (idiomatic) To act in the least risky manner in a situation in which one is uncertain about the consequences.
    • 1867 January 15, “The Impeachment of the President—Probabilities and Possibilities”, in New York Times, page 4:
      They are all zealous to the last degree in support of the extreme policy. . . . They certainly will not err on the side of caution.
    • 1976 Oct. 29, James J. Kilpatrick, "Bureaucracy Infects Drug Industry," St. Petersburg Independent/Washington Star Syndicate, p. 23-A (retrieved 1 Oct 2008):
      In any uncertain situation, government tends to err on the side of caution and delay.
    • 2008 September 17, Kara Gammell, “Cash in on the high interest rates”, in The Telegraph, UK, retrieved 1 October 2008:
      But many savers are more concerned with the safety of their deposits and are even spreading their money over several institutions to err on the side of caution.


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