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

Definition of cavort

intransitive verb

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

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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 Jones plays mostly on first and second downs, busting up the party in the trenches while his glam teammates cavort in the spotlight. Scott Ostler,, "49ers’ D.J. Jones: The unsung hero of a mighty defense," 6 Nov. 2019 Dancers from across the country cavort to the sounds of the txirula, while other Basque-Americans show off their skills in farm competitions like milk-can carrying, wagon lifting, and hay bale throwing. Alex Schechter, National Geographic, "Looking for Basque country in Idaho? Just follow the sheep," 4 Nov. 2019 On a recent morning, a dozen small children wearing baggy T-shirts and tracksuits were scattered around a mirrored room in the studio, cavorting on the floor and spinning on their heads. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "A Russian B-Boy Dreams of Gold," 19 Aug. 2019 Two-dimensional Bengal tigers, cut from metal, cavort on the walls, and the illusion of a peacock in a garden is created from a bunch of colorful faux flowers and plants. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "Commonwealth Indian is dressed to thrill in Rockville," 26 June 2019 His sons, ages 2 and 7, came and went to cavort with their father. Los Angeles Times, "Coyotes earn a living smuggling migrants to the U.S. Not right now, one says," 16 Aug. 2019 Beginning as a pennant vendor in 1962, Wilford Jones honed his persona and his fandom, turning out for Cowboys games and cavorting and whistling in his signature chaps and blue vest, brandishing a toy six-shooter. The Si Staff,, "100 Figures Who Shaped the NFL’s First Century," 28 Aug. 2019 The characters have as much heft as the lingerie in which the actresses cavort, but the point is the dazzle. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Hottest New Show on Broadway Is . . .," 30 Aug. 2019 Portraits of Mughal rulers, or of nobles cavorting, can be lovely. New York Times, "The Week in Arts: Tom Hiddleston in ‘Betrayal’; Beck Takes the Stage in Queens," 10 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cavort.' 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 cavort

1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cavort

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.

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Time Traveler for cavort

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The first known use of cavort was in 1794

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Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cavort.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for cavort


How to pronounce cavort (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cavort

: to jump or move around in a lively manner
: to spend time in an enjoyable and often wild or improper way


ca·​vort | \ kə-ˈvort How to pronounce cavort (audio) \
cavorted; cavorting

Kids Definition of cavort

: to move or hop about in a lively way … I saw the raccoons cavort around my fireplace …— Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain

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More from Merriam-Webster on cavort

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cavort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cavort

Spanish Central: Translation of cavort

Nglish: Translation of cavort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cavort for Arabic Speakers

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