caper

1 of 3

noun (1)

ca·​per ˈkā-pər How to pronounce caper (audio)
1
a
: an illegal or questionable act or escapade
With luck, Bobby Joe could have become a rich man. But lacking an excess of smarts to begin with, he had pulled off this caper largely due to the efforts of some brainier military personnel who set the thing up for him in Saigon. John Nichols
b
: an amusing movie or story about such an act or escapade
This offbeat, Runyonesque caper shows uncanny insight into the psychology of the con man and his all-too-willing victims. Sybil Steinberg
2
: a capricious escapade : prank
The boys were disciplined for their foolish capers.
3
: a frolicsome leap
He was so happy he cut a caper on the steps.
I feel as if I could be anything or everything; as if I could rant and storm, or sigh, or cut capers in any tragedy or comedy in the English language. Jane Austen

caper

2 of 3

verb

capered; capering ˈkā-p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce caper (audio)

intransitive verb

: to leap or prance about in a playful manner
lambs capering in the meadow

caper

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: any of a genus (Capparis of the family Capparidaceae, the caper family) of low prickly shrubs of the Mediterranean region
especially : one (C. spinosa) cultivated for its buds
2
: one of the greenish flower buds or young berries of the caper pickled and used as a seasoning or garnish

Did you know?

Caper in Latin means "a male goat". Anyone who has watched a young goat frolic in a field or clamber onto the roof of a car knows the kind of crazy fun the English word caper —which is also a verb—is referring to. A capriole is a backward kick done in midair by a trained horse. Capricorn, meaning "horned goat", is a constellation and one of the signs of the zodiac. And a capricious act is one that's done with as little thought as a frisky goat might give it.

Example Sentences

Verb a young goat capering in its pen as summer drew to a close, the children spent their days wistfully capering on the beach

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun (1)

probably by shortening & alteration from capriole

Noun (2)

back-formation from earlier capers (taken as a plural), from Middle English caperis, from Latin capparis, from Greek kapparis

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb

1588, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of caper was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near caper

Cite this Entry

“Caper.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caper. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

caper 1 of 3

noun

ca·​per ˈkā-pər How to pronounce caper (audio)
: a pickled flower bud or young berry of a low prickly shrub of the Mediterranean region that is used as a seasoning

caper

2 of 3

verb

capered; capering -p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce caper (audio)
: to leap about in a lively way

caper

3 of 3

noun

1
: a playful bounding leap or spring
2
: a playful or mischievous trick
3
: an illegal or questionable act

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