1

caper

play
noun ca·per \ˈkā-pər\

Definition of caper

  1. 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. 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.

Origin and Etymology of caper

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


First Known Use: 14th century

Other Seed Plant Terms


2

caper

verb ca·per

Definition of caper

capered

;

capering

play \-p(ə-)riŋ\
  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to leap or prance about in a playful manner lambs capering in the meadow

Examples of caper in a Sentence

  1. a young goat capering in its pen

  2. as summer drew to a close, the children spent their days wistfully capering on the beach

Origin and Etymology of caper

probably by shortening & alteration from capriole


First Known Use: 1588


3

caper

noun ca·per

Definition of caper

  1. 1 :  a frolicsome leap He was so happy he cut a caper on the steps.

  2. 2 :  a capricious escapade :  prank The boys were disciplined for their foolish capers.

  3. 3a :  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 Nicholsb :  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

Origin and Etymology of caper

see 2caper


First Known Use: 1592



CAPER Defined for English Language Learners

caper

verb

Definition of caper for English Language Learners

  • : to jump around in a lively way


CAPER Defined for Kids

1

caper

play
verb ca·per \ˈkā-pər\

Definition of caper for Students

capered

;

capering

  1. :  to leap about in a lively way


2

caper

play
noun ca·per

Definition of caper for Students

  1. 1 :  a playful or mischievous trick

  2. 2 :  a lively leap or spring

  3. 3 :  an illegal or questionable act



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up caper? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

of or relating to bile

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!