verb (used without object)
- to leap or skip about in a sprightly manner; prance; frisk; gambol.
- a playful leap or skip.
- a prank or trick; harebrained escapade.
- a frivolous, carefree episode or activity.
- Slang. a criminal or illegal act, as a burglary or robbery.
- cut a caper. cut(def 84).
- a spiny shrub, Capparis spinosa, of Mediterranean regions, having roundish leaves and solitary white flowers.
- its flower bud, which is pickled and used for garnish or seasoning.
- a playful skip or leap
- a high-spirited escapade
- cut a caper or cut capers
- to skip or jump playfully
- to act or behave playfully; frolic
- slang a crime, esp an organized robbery
- Australian informal a job or occupation
- Australian informal a person’s behaviour
- (intr) to leap or dance about in a light-hearted manner
- a spiny trailing Mediterranean capparidaceous shrub, Capparis spinosa, with edible flower buds
- any of various similar plants or their edible partsSee also bean caper, capers
1580s, apparently short for obsolete capriole “to leap, skip,” probably from Italian capriolare “jump in the air” (see cab). Related: Capered; capering.
type of prickly Mediterranean bush, also in reference to the plant’s edible buds, late 14c., from Latin capparis (source of Italian cappero, French câpre, German Kaper), from Greek kapparis “the caper plant or its fruit,” of uncertain origin. Arabic kabbar, Persian kabar are from Greek. Perhaps reborrowed into English 16c. The final -s was mistaken for a plural inflection in English and dropped.
by 1590s, “playful leap or jump,” from caper (v.); meaning “prank” is from 1840; that of “crime” is from 1926. To cut capers “dance in a frolicsome way” is from c.1600.