To be on the safe side – English idiom with examples

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

You can be on the safe side in a situation that is potentially dangerous in a way, and it means that you do something to avoid the danger. For example, you can say:

  • I didn’t feel well tonight, and to be on the safe side [not to make it any worse], I didn’t drink any alcohol at the party.
  • My mother-in-law is a picky eater, so when she was coming over, I asked her in advance what she would like to eat, to be on the safe side [to avoid an embarrassing moment during the meal].

If you say “just to be on the safe side”, it means that the bad scenario is unlikely, but you did something to prevent it anyway, just in case; for example:

  • I consider myself a healthy person, but I got my testosterone levels tested, just to be on the safe side [just to be sure nothing is wrong].

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.