From Middle Englishcare, from Old Englishcaru, ċearu(“care, concern, anxiety, sorrow, grief, trouble”), from Proto-Germanic*karō(“care, sorrow, cry”), from Proto-Indo-European*ǵeh₂r-(“shout, call”). Cognate with Old Saxoncara, kara(“concern, action”), Middle High Germankar(“sorrow, lamentation”), Icelandickör(“sickbed”), Gothic𐌺𐌰𐍂𐌰(kara, “concern, care”). Related also to Dutchkarig(“scanty”), Germankarg(“sparse, meagre, barren”), Latingarriō, Ancient Greekγῆρυς(gêrus). See also chary.
care (countable and uncountable, pluralcares)
(obsolete) Grief, sorrow. [13th–19th c.]
c. 1595, William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act III, Scene ii:
More health and happiness betide my liege / Than can my care-tuned tongue deliver him!
c. 1606, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act II Scene ii:
Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care.
1885, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 566:
One day, among the days, he bethought him of this and fell lamenting for that the most part of his existence was past and he had not been vouchsafed a son, to inherit the kingdom after him, even as he had inherited it from his fathers and forebears; by reason whereof there betided him sore cark and care and chagrin exceeding.
Close attention; concern; responsibility.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
The treatment of those in need (especially as a profession).
The state of being cared for by others.
The object of watchful attention or anxiety.
1925, Walter Anthony and Tom Reed (titles), Rupert Julian (director), The Phantom of the Opera, silent movie
‘Have a care, Buquet—ghosts like not to be seen or talked about!’
From Middle Englishcaren, carien, from Old Englishcarian(“to sorrow, grieve, be troubled, be anxious, to care for, heed”), from Proto-West Germanic*karōn(“to care”), from Proto-Germanic*karōną(“to care”).
Cognate with Middle High Germankarn(“to complain, lament, grieve, mourn”), Alemannic Germankaren, kären(“to groan, wheeze, give a death rattle”), Swedishkära(“to fall in love”), Icelandickæra(“to care, like”), Gothic𐌺𐌰𐍂𐍉𐌽(karōn, “to be concerned”).
care (third-person singular simple presentcares, present participlecaring, simple past and past participlecared)
(transitive, intransitive) To be concerned (about), to have an interest (in); to feel concern (about).
c. 1610-11, William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I, Scene i:
[…] What cares these roarers [i.e. thunder] for the name of king?[…]
(intransitive, polite, formal) To want, to desire; to like; to be inclined towards.
(intransitive) (with for) To look after or look out for.
(intransitive, Appalachia) To mind; to object.
2006, Grace Toney Edwards, JoAnn Aust Asbury, Ricky L. Cox, A Handbook to Appalachia: An Introduction to the Region, Univ. of Tennessee Press (→ISBN), page 108:
After introducing herself, the therapist then asked the patient if it would be all right to do the exercises which the doctor had ordered for her. The patient would response, "Well, I don't care to." For several days, the therapist immediately left the room and officially recorded that the patient had "refused" therapy. [...] It was not until months later that this therapist [...] discovered that she should have been interpreting "I don't care to" as "I don't mind" doing those exercises now.
The sense "to want" is most commonly found as an interrogative or negative sentence, and may take a for clause (would you care for some tea?) or (as a catenative verb) takes a to infinitive (would you care to go with me?). See Appendix:English catenative verbs.