1 [key-per]
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 85a ).

1585–95; figurative use of Latin caper he-goat (cognate with Old English hæfer, Old Norse hafr, Old Irish caera sheep < a West IE term *kap-(e)ro- for a domesticated smaller animal); for the meaning, cf. dog (v.)

caperer, noun
caperingly, adverb
uncapering, adjective

3. stunt, antic, shenanigans. 4. spree, frolic. Unabridged


2 [key-per]
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.
Compare caper family.

1350–1400; back formation from capers (taken for plural), Middle English caperes < Latin capparis < Greek kápparis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
caper1 (ˈkeɪpə)
1.  a playful skip or leap
2.  a high-spirited escapade
3.  cut a caper, cut capers
 a.  to skip or jump playfully
 b.  to act or behave playfully; frolic
4.  slang a crime, esp an organized robbery
5.  informal (Austral) a job or occupation
6.  informal (Austral) a person's behaviour
7.  (intr) to leap or dance about in a light-hearted manner
[C16: probably from capriole]

caper2 (ˈkeɪpə)
1.  a spiny trailing Mediterranean capparidaceous shrub, Capparis spinosa, with edible flower buds
2.  bean caper See also capers any of various similar plants or their edible parts
[C15: from earlier capers, capres (assumed to be plural), from Latin capparis, from Greek kapparis]

capers (ˈkeɪpəz)
pl n
the flower buds of the caper plant, which are pickled and used as a condiment

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

1580s, probably from It. capriolare "jump in the air" (see cab). Meaning "prank" is from 1840s; that of "crime" is from 1926. To cut capers is c.1600.

1382, from L. capparis, from Gk. kapparis, of uncertain origin. The final -s was mistaken for pl. inflection in Eng. and dropped.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

caper definition

  1. n.
    any stunt or event; a trick or a scam. : That little caper the kids did with the statue from the town square was a dandy.
  2. n.
    a criminal job: theft, kidnapping, blackmail, etc. (Underworld.) : The black and whites pulled up right in the middle of the caper.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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Example sentences
It is mostly filleted and sunbaked, then disinfected and served with what may or may not be capers.
While on an overseas whirl of capers and surfing, he doctored a credit card and went on a two-year spending spree.
Lemon and capers are common companions, as are roasted peppers, as in this preparation.
Capers contain more quercetin per weight than any other plants.
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