‘Throw Caution To The Wind’: Definition, Meaning and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on April 12, 2023

Did someone tell you to ‘throw caution to the wind’? Are you unsure of what that means? We’ll clear that up in this article and provide the definition and origin. Plus, you’ll learn how to use the phrase in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘Throw caution to the wind’ means to stop being careful and do something that’s dangerous or that might result in failure.

Essentially, it means not being too cautious in whatever you’re planning to do.

What Does ‘Throw Caution to the Wind’ Mean?

‘Throw caution to the wind’ is a common American phrase that people use to tell someone to go for something or commit to something. You might hear it when someone is trying to accomplish something big and another person is trying to encourage or motivate them.

For example, if you’re considering applying for a new job that you’re not sure you’re qualified for, a friend might say:

            'Throw caution to the wind and apply anyway. You never know what could happen.'

  • You might also hear the phrase when someone’s about to do something dangerous but fun, such as skydiving.

To motivate someone, you might tell them:

Throw caution to the wind and just do it!

Basically, it means that you shouldn’t be afraid to do something you want to do just because you’re scared of what might happen.

Where Does ‘Throw Caution to the Wind’ Come From? 

The phrase ‘throw caution to the wind’ was used as early as 1887.

The New York Times published a story called Sharp Sleeps in a Jail: Sheriff Grant Had Begun to Get Nervous.

Part of the passage reads:

Yesterday Mr. Ricketts asked judge Barrett what the jury would do over Sunday. This puzzled the court not a little. Sending the jury to church was questionable, because two of them were known to have free-thinking, baseball proclivities, and might create a disturbance. Coney Island was equally inadvisable, since there were church members of long repression on the jury, who, brought face to face with those follies and vices of the world which they usually took pains to avoid, might impulsively throw discretion to the winds and be detected in the act of buying popcorn and lemonade from some of those snub-nosed Circes from the factories who go to Coney Island on Sunday prepared to “mash” anything and everything that is mashable in all the width of the world.

In 1901, the Baltimore American newspaper published an article on August 24 called Another Race for Motors: Four Notes Crews and Motors to Be Again Tested Around the Bowl Track.

That passage read:

There is great rivalry between the Nelson brothers as to the speeds of the motors, while the “Blues” are a distinct camp full of all that professional jealousy that animates actors and motor riders. The outlook is that there will be more races of throwing caution to the wind after the crack of the pistol and of thrilling rides with death for the satisfaction of victory and the purses.

Examples of ‘Throw Caution to the Wind’ in Sentences

How would you use ‘throw caution to the wind’ in a sentence?

Let’s see some examples:

  • I have been wanting to go bungee jumping for years now. I think I’m finally going to throw caution to the wind and just do it.
  • After thinking about quitting her job for years, Anita finally threw caution to the wind and did it. She plans on starting a business in the meantime.
  • If you ever choose to throw caution to the wind and move to California to chase your dreams, let me know. I want to come too. I want to try modeling.
  • I threw caution to the wind and bought the Porsche I’ve always wanted. Life is short, and we need to live it. What’s the point of saving forever if you’re not going to buy anything?
  • Claudia intimated that she was going to throw caution to the wind and buy the new MacBook Pro that’s been sitting on her wish list on Amazon for over a year. She decided she deserved to treat herself.
  • I decided to throw caution to the wind and order the living room set that complements my design scheme. I want my home to look as beautiful as possible, so why not?
  • As a bibliophile, I decided to throw caution to the wind and order the Divergent series today. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I finished The Hunger Games series. I know I’m late to the party, but what the heck?
  • Why would you throw caution to the wind like that and just spend all that money without consulting me? We’re supposed to be partners and talk about how we spend that kind of money beforehand.

Other Ways to Say ‘Throw Caution to the Wind’

What other words or phrases convey the same meaning as ‘throw caution to the wind’?

Let’s see some examples:

  • Take the plunge
  • Take the bull by the horns
  • Commit to something
  • Jump in the deep end
  • Just do it
  • Bet the ranch
  • Seize the opportunity
  • Carpe Diem
  • Dive in
  • Bite the bullet
  • Go for it
  • Bet the farm
  • Cross the Rubicon
  • Grasp the nettle
  • Leap into the breach
  • Show your mettle
  • Face the music
  • Take initiative

Concluding Advice on ‘Throw Caution to the Wind’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Throw caution to the wind’ means to stop being careful and do something that’s dangerous or that might result in failure.

Remember, it means not to be too cautious in whatever you’re planning to do.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back to review what you learned. We’ve got a whole library of content on other idioms that you might find helpful as you’re learning this complex language. Feel free to come back or browse other articles anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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