capricious

adjective
ca·​pri·​cious | \kə-ˈpri-shəs, -ˈprē- \

Definition of capricious 

: governed or characterized by caprice : impulsive, unpredictable

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Other Words from capricious

capriciously adverb
capriciousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for capricious

inconstant, fickle, capricious, mercurial, unstable mean lacking firmness or steadiness (as in purpose or devotion). inconstant implies an incapacity for steadiness and an inherent tendency to change. an inconstant friend fickle suggests unreliability because of perverse changeability and incapacity for steadfastness. performers discover how fickle fans can be capricious suggests motivation by sudden whim or fancy and stresses unpredictability. an utterly capricious critic mercurial implies a rapid changeability in mood. made anxious by her boss's mercurial temperament unstable implies an incapacity for remaining in a fixed position or steady course and applies especially to a lack of emotional balance. too unstable to hold a job

How Long Has caprice Appeared in English?

The noun caprice, which first appeared in English in the mid-17th century, is a synonym of whim. Evidence shows that the adjective capricious debuted about sixty years before caprice; it's likely, however, that both words derived via French from the Italian capriccio, which originally referred not to a sudden desire but to a sudden shudder of fear. Capriccio in turn derives from the Italian capo, meaning "head," and riccio, the word for "hedgehog." Someone who shuddered in fear, therefore, was said to have a "hedgehog head"-meaning that his or her hair stood on end like the spines of a hedgehog.

Examples of capricious in a Sentence

… every balloon voyage is a race between capricious winds and the amount of fuel on board. — Tom Morganthau, Newsweek, 29 Mar. 1999 She is capricious, however, and is said to take bribes and wantonly peddle her influence from time to time. — Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994 Lady Luck is a capricious mother who, as in a recurrent nightmare, always offers, never comes through, and never stops smiling. — Hugh Drummond, Boston Magazine, November 1989 I don't believe in random occurrences or blind chance, though I know the patterns of this world are capricious and terribly complex. — Leslie Marmon Silko, letter, 21 Aug. 1979 employees who are at the mercy of a capricious manager The court ruled that the punishment was arbitrary and capricious.
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Recent Examples on the Web

These candid memos give us a rare glimpse into the working life, and capricious mind, of an editorial genius, and a fascinating look behind the scenes at an iconic magazine. Elle Decor Staff, ELLE Decor, "High Notes: The Memos of Diana Vreeland," 18 Oct. 2013 What business leaders see, analysts say, is a punitive approach that is capricious, aggressive and at times ill-prepared. The Economist, "For European firms, resisting American sanctions may be futile," 19 May 2018 In January a federal court in Massachusetts ruled the formula wasn’t arbitrary and capricious. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Health Insurers Squawk," 10 July 2018 He was inspired by Goose Island's creative ways from creating popular easy-drinking beers to the barrel-aged brews to its use of the capricious yeast Brettanomyces in beers such as Sophie and Lolita. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How craft beer became big business is heart of 'Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out"," 13 June 2018 Trump’s capricious trade policy has businesses most nervous. Mark Zandi, Philly.com, "Corporate America loved Trump tax cuts, but the love affair may end," 25 May 2018 The lawsuit alleges that the suspension of the requirement by the EPA is arbitrary and capricious, and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Patrick Mcgreevy, latimes.com, "California sues Trump administration to restore rules protecting farmworkers," 30 May 2018 Your thinking tends to be very big-picture, but with capricious Gemini energy highlighting your artistic zone, you're inspired by playful, curious energy. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What June's Aquarius Horoscope Means for You," 29 May 2018 Using the dollar as a bludgeon has already led to capricious and arbitrary decision-making. The Economist, "America must use sanctions cautiously," 19 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capricious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of capricious

1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for capricious

see caprice

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Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for capricious

The first known use of capricious was in 1601

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More Definitions for capricious

capricious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of capricious

: changing often and quickly; especially : often changing suddenly in mood or behavior

: not logical or reasonable : based on an idea, desire, etc., that is not possible to predict

capricious

adjective
ca·​pri·​cious | \kə-ˈpri-shəs \

Kids Definition of capricious

1 : moved or controlled by a sudden desire a capricious shopper

2 : likely to change suddenly capricious weather

Other Words from capricious

capriciously adverb

capricious

adjective
ca·​pri·​cious | \kə-ˈpri-shəs, -ˈprē- \

Legal Definition of capricious 

1 : governed or characterized by impulse or whim: as

a : lacking a rational basis

b : likely to change suddenly

2 : not supported by the weight of evidence or established rules of law often used in the phrase arbitrary and capricious

Other Words from capricious

capriciously adverb
capriciousness noun

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