white caps


[hwahyt-kap, wahyt-]
a wave with a broken and foaming white crest.

1660–70; white + cap1

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World English Dictionary
whitecap (ˈwaɪtˌkæp)
1.  a wave with a white broken crest
2.  (US) a member of a vigilante organization that attempts to control a community

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1660s, of birds, from white + cap. Attested from 1773 in ref. to breaking waves, from 1818 of mushrooms, and from 1891 in ref. to "one of a self-constituted band in U.S. who committed outrages under pretense of regulating public morals" [OED].
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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