noun (1)
ca·​per | \ ˈkā-pər How to pronounce caper (audio) \

Definition of caper

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : an illegal or questionable act or escapade With luck, Bobby Joe could have become a rich man. But lacking an excess of smarts to begin with, he had pulled off this caper largely due to the efforts of some brainier military personnel who set the thing up for him in Saigon.— John Nichols
b : an amusing movie or story about such an act or escapade This offbeat, Runyonesque caper shows uncanny insight into the psychology of the con man and his all-too-willing victims. Sybil Steinberg
2 : a capricious escapade : prank The boys were disciplined for their foolish capers.
3 : a frolicsome leap He was so happy he cut a caper on the steps. I feel as if I could be anything or everything; as if I could rant and storm, or sigh, or cut capers in any tragedy or comedy in the English language.— Jane Austen


capered; capering\ ˈkā-​p(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce capering (audio) \

Definition of caper (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to leap or prance about in a playful manner lambs capering in the meadow


noun (2)

Definition of caper (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : any of a genus (Capparis of the family Capparidaceae, the caper family) of low prickly shrubs of the Mediterranean region especially : one (C. spinosa) cultivated for its buds
2 : one of the greenish flower buds or young berries of the caper pickled and used as a seasoning or garnish

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Did You Know?

Caper in Latin means "a male goat". Anyone who has watched a young goat frolic in a field or clamber onto the roof of a car knows the kind of crazy fun the English word caper —which is also a verb—is referring to. A capriole is a backward kick done in midair by a trained horse. Capricorn, meaning "horned goat", is a constellation and one of the signs of the zodiac. And a capricious act is one that's done with as little thought as a frisky goat might give it.

Examples of caper in a Sentence


a young goat capering in its pen as summer drew to a close, the children spent their days wistfully capering on the beach

First Known Use of caper

Noun (1)

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1588, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for caper

Verb and Noun (1)

probably by shortening & alteration from capriole

Noun (2)

back-formation from earlier capers (taken as a plural), from Middle English caperis, from Latin capparis, from Greek kapparis

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Time Traveler for caper

The first known use of caper was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for caper



English Language Learners Definition of caper

: to jump around in a lively way


ca·​per | \ ˈkā-pər How to pronounce caper (audio) \
capered; capering

Kids Definition of caper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to leap about in a lively way



Kids Definition of caper (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a playful or mischievous trick
2 : a lively leap or spring
3 : an illegal or questionable act

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More from Merriam-Webster on caper

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with caper

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caper

Spanish Central: Translation of caper

Nglish: Translation of caper for Spanish Speakers

Comments on caper

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