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

Orange’s balance between light and dark has always been a capricious one. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Prescience of Orange Is the New Black," 25 July 2019 Building the large static-firing facility, which would allow engineers to tune up the capricious multi-engine cluster on the ground, was also abandoned to save time and money. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Why Didn't the Soviets Ever Make It to the Moon?," 22 July 2019 As far as he’s concerned, there will always be those in government who are steadfastly against an open fireworks exchange, keeping the market fussy and capricious, a million different irritable subdivisions acting as a persnickety whole. Luke Winkie, Vox, "Anime brings in more than $19 billion a year. Its artists are earning barely enough to survive.," 2 July 2019 However, in 1991 the Alabama Supreme Court rejected the simple meaning of the law for a more capricious interpretation. al.com, "Why does God need public records? In Alabama, that’s a real question.," 14 July 2019 Several judges have ruled the DACA cancellation was unlawful, on the grounds that the Trump administration’s actions were arbitrary and capricious. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "Supreme Court to Review Trump Effort to Cancel DACA," 28 June 2019 In November, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the administration decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious. Dallas News, "Supreme Court will decide whether Trump has the power to end DACA," 28 June 2019 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

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

6 Aug 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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