ca·​par·​i·​son | \ kə-ˈper-ə-sən How to pronounce caparison (audio) , -ˈpa-rə- \

Definition of caparison

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an ornamental covering for a horse
b : decorative trappings and harness
2 : rich clothing : adornment


caparisoned; caparisoning; caparisons

Definition of caparison (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to provide with or as if with a rich ornamental covering : adorn the trees stood majestically caparisoned, with their innumerable leaves gilt— Virginia Woolf

Did you know?


Caparison first embellished English in the 1500s, when we borrowed it from the Middle French caparaçon. Early caparisons were likely used to display the heraldic colors of a horseman, and in some cases may also have functioned as protective covering for the horse. In British India, it was elephants, not horses, that were decked out with caparisons-and to this day both animals can still be seen in such attire during parades and circuses. It did not take long for caparison to come to refer to the ornate clothing worn by a man or woman. Caparison also serves English as a verb, a use first recorded in Shakespeare when Richard III commanded, "Come, bustle, bustle; caparison my horse."

Examples of caparison in a Sentence

Noun attended the masquerade ball in the caparison of an Indian maharaja horses dressed in Old-West caparison for the parade Verb used to seeing him in a T-shirt and jeans, we were startled by the sight of strapping youth caparisoned for the prom in a tuxedo the state's rolling hills are even more becoming when they are caparisoned in the glorious colors of autumn

First Known Use of caparison


1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1594, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for caparison


Middle French caparaçon, from Old Spanish caparazón

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The first known use of caparison was in 1579

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capa prieto



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Cite this Entry

“Caparison.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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