ca·​vort kə-ˈvȯrt How to pronounce cavort (audio)
cavorted; cavorting; cavorts

intransitive verb

: to leap or dance about in a lively manner
Otters cavorted in the stream.
: to engage in extravagant behavior
The governor has been criticized for cavorting with celebrities.

Examples of cavort in a Sentence

Otters cavorted in the stream. children cavorting on the first sunny day of spring
Recent Examples on the Web Young aspirants populate the hipster Northeast, writers cavort in Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and actors climb the hills of Hollywood. Boris Kachka, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2024 Explore the shoreline in a canoe or kayak or take a three-hour glass-bottom boat tour to see dolphins, tropical fish and sea turtles cavorting near the coral reefs. Miami Staff, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Its Hollywood glamour — Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, among others, cavorted there — attracted Mrs. Luce, who was the ultimate piece of work. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 13 Jan. 2024 This performance gets bonus points for the backup dancers clad in full ballgowns and wigs cavorting about the stage. Lauren Huff,, 4 Jan. 2024 Nearby, frantic figures wound from wildly looping metal wires cavorted and did battle across another narrow shelf. Jeremy C. Fox,, 6 Sep. 2023 At once, his days of solitude were filled with New Zealand’s native birds; cavorting dolphins, turtles and whales; and polar bears on ice floes. Natasha Frost, New York Times, 10 Dec. 2023 Adin Ross, for his part, is known to cavort with misogynistic creators like Andrew Tate and has expressed countless right-leaning views on his stream, in addition to dropping the N-word a few times. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 6 Dec. 2023 Roosa was the command module pilot on NASA’s Apollo 14 mission, responsible for circling the moon alone while Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell cavorted on the lunar surface below. John Kelly, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cavort.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


earlier also cauvaut, cavault, covault, of obscure origin

Note: All early attestations of the word are North American, the first known (as cauvauted) in a letter written by the North Carolina politician John Steele in April, 1794. Various etymologies have been suggested: that the word is altered from curvet entry 1; that it is comprised of the unstressed expressive prefix ca- (as in caboodle) and vault entry 3; that it has some relation with French chahuter "to dance the chahut (a boisterous, somewhat indecent dance), to make an uproar" (see Leo Spitzer, "Cavort," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol. 48 (1949), pp. 132-37). Apparently the same word is cavaulting "coition" in John Camden Hotten's A Dictionary of Modern, Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words (London, 1859). In the second edition of Hotten's dictionary (London, 1860) the word has the etymological note "Lingua Franca, cavolta," though there appears to be no evidence for such a word in Lingua Franca.

First Known Use

1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cavort was in 1794

Dictionary Entries Near cavort

Cite this Entry

“Cavort.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ca·​vort kə-ˈvȯ(ə)rt How to pronounce cavort (audio)
: to leap or dance about in a lively manner

More from Merriam-Webster on cavort

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