Definition of caprice in English:



  • 1A sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behaviour.

    ‘the caprices of the electorate’
    mass noun ‘a land where men were ruled by law and not by caprice’
    • ‘These are qualities that foreigners admire, accustomed as they more usually are to the caprices of their own leaders.’
    • ‘The San Andreas last ruptured in 1906, and in doing so all but destroyed the city of San Francisco - the last time that a great American city was wrecked by a caprice of nature.’
    • ‘In our modern world, after all, power rarely lies hidden behind, say, Roman flat or the caprice of royal edict, at least not in the colonizing countries.’
    • ‘He was also able to draw on first-hand knowledge of the caprices of the writing life.’
    • ‘It is not an inanimate thing, like a house, to be pulled down or enlarged or structurally altered at the caprice of the tenant or owner; it is a living thing.’
    • ‘Even those who need emergency hospital care will be subjected to the caprices and bureaucratic diktat of the soldiers guarding the gates.’
    • ‘But that might be less upsetting to witness than the scene here in Addis, where uncomplaining Ethiopians submit humbly to the bitter caprice of clinical selection.’
    • ‘The recent practice of using foreign laws as bases for judicial decisions about American laws likewise turns law into the caprices John Stuart Mill feared more than he feared bad laws.’
    • ‘Unless you live in Spain, it is difficult to count the layers of irony stacked up alongside that idea, after 103 years in which the caprice of human judgement would appear to have rather favoured the famous team in white.’
    • ‘In the air-conditioned comfort of the ship's stately lounges my whims and caprices are anticipated by the quintessential British crew.’
    • ‘But now, with Morgan's depiction of her caprices and attempts to outwit him, she suddenly sounds quite normal.’
    • ‘And that is the difference: Nowadays our wars are so far from necessary that their cruelty and caprice still the urge to speak.’
    • ‘Philosophers advise self-reliance, but whether the vagaries of science or the caprices of the gods, the ways of healing are just too complex for most people to manage without help.’
    • ‘Dip in, and let yourself be governed by mood and caprice.’
    • ‘Not by the wildest caprice of imagination was ‘a nation terrorized’ by McCarthy.’
    • ‘It was an odd caprice of fate that an actor who would have preferred doing classical texts made his fame and fortune in something based on a comic book.’
    • ‘Essentially, what has happened to O'Neill is no more than life, with all its vagaries and caprices.’
    • ‘Every state and government in the world is now vulnerable to the caprices and blackmails of financial markets.’
    • ‘But the spirit that endures the mere cruelties and caprices of an established despot is the spirit of an ancient and settled and probably stiffened society, not the spirit of a new one.’
    • ‘Her narrative follows a loopy line traced more by mood and caprice than by causation or chronology.’
    whim, whimsy, vagary, fancy, notion, fad, freak, humour, impulse, quirk, eccentricity, foible, crotchet, urge
    fickleness, changeableness, volatility, inconstancy, capriciousness, fitfulness, unpredictability
    View synonyms
  • 2Music

    ‘the caprice was divided into a theme and eleven variations’
    another term for capriccio
    • ‘Studies for solo violin include Paganini's brilliant 24 caprices, which provided a fertile source of inspiration for other composers.’
    • ‘I was feeling the exhaustion keenly - but not enough to make a complete ass of myself during choir, which inched by like a violist playing Paganini caprices.’
    • ‘Dress up like him and play one of his caprices with that wild hair.’
    • ‘Can anyone play Paganini's violin caprices and do them justice?’
    • ‘Paganini's 24th caprice for solo violin, itself a variation on an original theme, was creatively diversified by Brahms, Liszt, Szymanowski and, most lyrically, Rachmaninov.’
    • ‘Dubost had herself conceived the ballet as a musical caprice and had given the ten leaves of her fan to ten different composers asking each of them to compose a single dance number.’


Mid 17th century: from French, from Italian (see capriccio).