I always use this expression when I want to say that I just want to be prudent about something. Are there other ways to convey the same concept, other idioms or expressions I can use alternatively?

  • Is using "just want to be prudent" unacceptable for some reason?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jun 19, 2014 at 14:27
  • 7
    . . . or "prudence demands that we . . ." (assuming no one in your office is named Prudence). Jun 19, 2014 at 14:30
  • It is fine of course,but my question is, if I may: are there other expressions or idioms I am not aware of?
    – user66974
    Jun 19, 2014 at 14:31
  • "Just in case," perhaps? But just how are we supposed to know which phrases you are and are not aware of? Jun 19, 2014 at 14:51
  • 2
    @BrianDonovan, as I said in the question 'just to be on the safe side' is the only that I know and use. Any other expression or idiom, like the one you mentioned above, is most welcome.
    – user66974
    Jun 19, 2014 at 14:57

11 Answers 11


Play (it) safe
to be careful and not take risks

(against something): to lessen the risk of something happening
hedge (your bets): to protect yourself against making the wrong choice

Abundant caution
Abundans cautela non nocet (Lt.) – "Abundant caution does no harm." Thus, one can never be too careful; even excessive precautions don't hurt anyone.

  • 1
    I like the Latin adage. Advice always sounds more prudent in Latin. Jun 19, 2014 at 15:26
  • +1 Also in an excess of caution, often said self-depricatingly/disingenuously about ones own conduct.
    – bib
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:29
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    @TheodoreBroda Dictum semper quidem prudentiores Latine!
    – Doorknob
    Jun 19, 2014 at 19:17

"Err on the side of caution" comes to mind.

  • First to my mind as well
    – Cruncher
    Jun 19, 2014 at 20:49

In addition to the other answers, "Better safe than sorry" also comes to mind.


"A stitch in time saves nine" they say. So, for peace of mind, I lock my doors at night.

  • Not sure I'd agree on the similarity with "A stitch in time saves nine," @MajorMalfunction, because that adage applies when damage has already occurred.
    – jaxter
    Sep 27, 2016 at 22:06

There is a famous "Yogi Berra quote" that "you don't want to make the wrong mistake."


"And, as braces (suspenders in the US) to go with my belt..."

It's a bit self-deprecating, but if it's something you're consciously using to mix up the vocabulary a bit, other people have probably noticed as well, and poking a bit of fun at yourself from time to time is healthy for all concerned.


"Conservatively", or "Just to be conservative"


Depending on the context, I think the following idiom may prove useful:

Don't bite off more than you can chew, suggesting a prudent and measured behaviour.

If you bite off more than you can chew, you take on more responsibilities than you can manage. 'Don't bite off more than you can chew' is often used to advise people against agreeing to more than they can handle.

  • This may be too specific for the OP's needs.
    – Barmar
    Jun 23, 2014 at 20:46
  • This phrase relates a caution about being too ambitious, rather than addressing the question's point, which is about concern for contingencies.
    – jaxter
    Sep 27, 2016 at 22:07

I believe it's a colloquialism but "I may be wearing shark armor in the shallow end but, ...." is not unheard of in Seattle. Though, I've only heard it used to describe when someone's being overly-cautious: "you don't need shark chain-mail to go in a swimming pool".

  • You could tweak this expression to suit the OP's purposes; something like: sometimes it's good to wear shark armor – even in the shallow end.
    – J.R.
    Jun 21, 2014 at 9:56

"Conservatively" is a word that came to my mind when I read this. E.g.

This will take no less than one month to complete, to be on the safe side.


This will take no less than one month to complete, conservatively estimating.


Play one's cards close to one's chest

Fig. to keep to oneself or be very cautious in one's dealing with people. (As if one were playing cards and not permitting anyone to see any of the cards.) He is very cautious. He plays his cards close to his chest.

AmEng Play (keep) one's cards close to one's vest

Who supports the program, who wants to phase it out, and who's keeping their cards close to their vest, trying to figure which way the wind will blow?