- a state of mind in which one is troubled; worry, anxiety, or concern: He was never free from care.
- a cause or object of worry, anxiety, concern, etc.: Their son has always been a great care to them.
- serious attention; solicitude; heed; caution: She devotes great care to her work.
- the provision of what is needed for the well-being or protection of a person or thing: He is under the care of a doctor. With proper care, the watch will last a lifetime.
- temporary keeping, as for the benefit of or until claimed by the owner: He left his valuables in the care of friends. Address my mail in care of the American Embassy.
- grief; suffering; sorrow.
verb (used without object), cared, car·ing.
- to be concerned or solicitous; have thought or regard.
- to be concerned or have a special preference (usually used in negative constructions): I don’t care if I do.
- to make provision or look out (usually followed by for): Will you care for the children while I am away?
- to have an inclination, liking, fondness, or affection (usually followed by for): Would you care for dessert? I don’t care for him very much.
verb (used with object), cared, car·ing.
- to feel concern about: He doesn’t care what others say.
- to wish; desire; like: Would you care to dance?
- couldn’t care less, could not care less; be completely unconcerned: I couldn’t care less whether she goes to the party or not.Also could care less.
- take care,
- be alert; be careful: Take care that you don’t fall on the ice!
- take care of yourself; goodbye: used as an expression of parting.
- take care of,
- to watch over; be responsible for: to take care of an invalid.
- to act on; deal with; attend to: to take care of paying a bill.
- a private organization for the collection of funds, goods, etc., for distribution to the needy in foreign countries.
- (when tr, may take a clause as object) to be troubled or concerned; be affected emotionallyhe is dying, and she doesn’t care
- (intr; foll by for or about) to have regard, affection, or consideration (for)he cares more for his hobby than his job
- (intr foll by for) to have a desire or taste (for)would you care for some tea?
- (intr foll by for) to provide physical needs, help, or comfort (for)the nurse cared for her patients
- (tr) to agree or like (to do something)would you care to sit down, please?
- for all I care or I couldn’t care less I am completely indifferent
- careful or serious attentionunder her care the plant flourished; he does his work with care
- protective or supervisory controlin the care of a doctor
- (often plural) trouble; anxiety; worry
- an object of or cause for concernthe baby’s illness was her only care
- cautionhandle with care
- care of at the address of: written on envelopesUsual abbreviation: c/o
- in care or into care social welfare made the legal responsibility of a local authority by order of a court
n acronym for
- Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere, Inc.; a federation of US charities, giving financial and technical assistance to many regions of the world
- communicated authenticity, regard, empathy: the three qualities believed to be essential in the therapist practising client-centred therapy
Old English caru, cearu “sorrow, anxiety, grief,” also “burdens of mind; serious mental attention,” from Proto-Germanic *karo (cf. Old Saxon kara “sorrow;” Old High German chara “wail, lament;” Gothic kara “sorrow, trouble, care;” German Karfreitag “Good Friday”), from PIE root *gar- “cry out, call, scream” (cf. Irish gairm “shout, cry, call;” see garrulous).
Different sense evolution in related Dutch karig “scanty, frugal,” German karg “stingy, scanty.” The sense development in English is from “cry” to “lamentation” to “grief.” Meaning “charge, oversight, protection” is attested c.1400, the sense in care of in addressing. To take care of “take in hand, do” is from 1580s.
Old English carian, cearian “be anxious, grieve; to feel concern or interest,” from Proto-Germanic *karojanan (cf. Old High German charon “to lament,” Old Saxon karon “to care, to sorrow”), from the same source as care (n.). OED emphasizes that it is in “no way related to L. cura.” Related: Cared; caring.
To not care as a negative dismissal is attested from mid-13c. Phrase couldn’t care less is from 1946; could care less in the same sense (with an understood negative) is from 1966. Care also figures in many “similies of indifference” in the form don’t care a _____, with the blank filled by fig, pin, button, cent, straw, rush, point, farthing, snap, etc., etc.
Positive senses, e.g. “have an inclination” (1550s); “have fondness for” (1520s) seem to have developed later as mirrors to the earlier negative ones.
In addition to the idiom beginning with care
- care package
- couldn’t care less
- for all (I care)
- in care of
- in charge (the care of)
- take care
- take care of
- tender loving care
- that’s (takes care of) that