Trending: β€˜capricious’

Lookups spiked 1,925% on June 18, 2020

Why are people looking up capricious?

Capricious topped our site lookups on June 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court decided that President Trump cannot end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without giving a substantive reason for doing so:

While the agency was not required to pursue these accommodations, it was required to assess the existence and strength of any reliance interests, and weigh them against competing policy concerns. Its failure to do so was arbitrary and capricious.

What does capricious mean?

In legal contexts like this one, capricious means:

: not supported by the weight of evidence or established rules of law

Where does capricious come from?

Capricious derives from caprice, which means "a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action."

It derives ultimately from the Italian word capriccio ("caprice," "shudder"), which perhaps was formed from combining capo ("head") and riccio ("hedgehog"). The image here is of a head with hair standing on end, hence the idea of "shivering" like a whim, moving without motivation.

What is notable about this use of capricious?

The phrase "arbitrary and capricious" is used in legal language, especially in administrative law, for a standard of review.

Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.

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