capricious

adjective
ca·​pri·​cious | \ kə-ˈpri-shəs How to pronounce capricious (audio) , -ˈprē- How to pronounce capricious (audio) \

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

Scott Coopwood as the close-to-villainous yet willfully capricious Captain is a force to be reckoned with. Joanne Engelhardt, The Mercury News, "Theater review: Lots of reasons to experience ‘Archduke’," 13 June 2019 The definition of turbulence is fairly straightforward: chaotic and capricious eddies of air, disturbed from a calmer state by various forces. Michelle Z. Donahue, National Geographic, "What is turbulence—and how can you calm down about it?," 12 June 2019 An Asian order sculpted by China would be more capricious and suffocating than anything Mr Trump could devise. The Economist, "Asian countries fear China but many won’t side with America," 6 June 2019 However, these polls can be just as capricious as millennial voters. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Fickle millennials may not turn out for midterms, helping the GOP, new poll says," 22 July 2018 In her ruling, Beeler said the decision to revoke those approvals was arbitrary and capricious and required more analysis and explanation. Sudhin Thanawala, The Seattle Times, "US judge tosses bulk of suit against Trump immigration move," 10 Dec. 2018 Photo: jason lee/Reuters The government’s capricious approach invites suspicion of its motives. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "Chinese Tech Stocks Will Always Become Victims of Their Success," 30 Nov. 2018 Still, after thousands of dollars spent, months of work and the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, the festival’s success comes down to one capricious bit of fate: weather. Libby Solomon, baltimoresun.com, "Fresh food and fresh ideas at this year's Towsontown Spring Festival," 2 May 2018 That's why ancient societies ascribed natural disasters to capricious deities or, with the advent of Judeo-Christianity, human agency-immoral conduct. Special To The Oregonian, OregonLive.com, "Quake expert Lucy Jones examines natural disaster and human denial in 'The Big Ones'," 18 Apr. 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

25 Jun 2019

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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

formal
: 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 How to pronounce capricious (audio) \

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- How to pronounce capricious (audio) \

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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Comments on capricious

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