Definition of capricious in English:



  • 1Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour.

    ‘a capricious and often brutal administration’
    • ‘It's an amusing idea, that even the harbingers of capitalism are subject to the ever-changing moods of capricious Mother Nature.’
    • ‘The capricious god changed Ariadne into the Corona Cressa, or Cretan Diadem, already visible in the heavens in Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne as an omen at their first meeting.’
    • ‘While the sprites that run the weather here are capricious, their temperaments are contained within some very strict limits.’
    • ‘Ultimately, that's for the voters to decide, and recent history shows them to be a mercurial, at times capricious lot.’
    • ‘The woman was so fickle-minded and capricious that Agueda often found herself confused.’
    • ‘I miss her because she was capricious and unreliable, and because minis are the kind of car that make people smile.’
    • ‘Please allow me to maintain my self-image as capricious, arbitrary and unfair.’
    • ‘It is capricious and fickle, changing moods easily.’
    • ‘In any event, I reserve the right to be arbitrary and capricious in choosing which comments to delete because they cross the line.’
    • ‘Nature is regarded as the provider of bounty, but also as wild, awesome and capricious, with unpredictable catastrophes, like floods and storms at sea.’
    • ‘He can be so sweet sometimes, he's just very capricious and whimsical.’
    • ‘Let us say that on a rare, windy day in Waterloo, someone leaves a copy of our beloved Imprint on a bench outside, completely at the mercy of the fickle, capricious wind.’
    • ‘Even those who have climbed in the Alps or the lower Himalayas, find it hard to understand the appeal of such a brutal and capricious mountain.’
    • ‘It will be a difficult task as the ship has become overloaded, capricious and the ocean is tempestuous.’
    • ‘Exhausted and in constant pain, she had to contend with vast, unfathomable personality changes that made her capricious, indecisive, impatient and intolerant.’
    • ‘It is as if we, temperamental and capricious, have been having a stormy affair with aloof, indifferent El Niño.’
    • ‘Luckily enough, ostriches are not capricious animals and easily adapt to the climate in Bulgaria.’
    • ‘The true gods are fickle and capricious and care little for the affairs of men, but the piper was different.’
    • ‘It is an immensely tough way of living but one which now, with over-grazing and an increasingly capricious climate, is beginning to look very vulnerable.’
    • ‘I have a strange, queasy feeling that I can never impart to him about how capricious and arbitrary a regime like this can be.’
    fickle, inconstant, changeable, variable, unstable, mercurial, volatile, erratic, vacillating, irregular, inconsistent, fitful, arbitrary
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    1. 1.1 Changing according to no discernible rules; unpredictable.
      ‘a capricious climate’
      • ‘Whatever the cause, it would appear arbitrary and capricious to limit the number of years students are given to learn English.’
      • ‘In short, they're picky eaters, and their appetites are capricious and unpredictable.’
      • ‘The increasing confidence of the Irish labour force means that employees are less inclined to tolerate biased, arbitrary or capricious employer decisions.’
      • ‘In that event the basis for the exercise of power is absent, just as if it were shown that the opinion was arbitrary, capricious, irrational, or not bona fide.’
      • ‘Having laws you're not going to enforce is an invitation for capricious and arbitrary prosecution.’
      • ‘To claim that God engages in this same capricious and barbaric behavior is to blaspheme God.’
      • ‘Your Honour, from my perspective I am trying to understand the arbitrary and capricious argument that my learned friends are putting forward.’
      • ‘But Powell's fatalistic words do convey a career military man's appreciation of the arbitrary and capricious nature of war.’
      • ‘Relatively incorrupt, they brought an end to the capricious violence of the warlords who ruled in the post-Soviet vacuum.’
      • ‘Targeting aid resources without adequate awareness of the size of the population involved in illicit crops is capricious and arbitrary.’
      • ‘Arbitrary and capricious rather than democratic procedures prevailed.’
      • ‘Georgia, the Supreme Court temporarily ended the death penalty in America, deeming its application arbitrary and capricious.’
      • ‘The workings of the system were entirely capricious and arbitrary.’
      • ‘Objectively, it seems to me it's arbitrary, capricious, inconsistent.’
      • ‘Upon such changing moods, and seemingly capricious events, the future spiritual welfare of our nation has depended.’
      • ‘In using the police power in this broad way, municipalities can avoid charges of arbitrary and capricious acts.’
      • ‘Copies of the memorandum went to the membership of appeals committees that had found the provost's decisions to be arbitrary and capricious.’
      • ‘The purpose of the provision in paragraph 18.15 is to prevent arbitrary or capricious searches.’
      • ‘In those circumstances the arrest, though subsequently found to be unlawful, could not be said to be capricious or arbitrary.’
      • ‘To a casual observer, the conversation might have seemed haphazard and capricious: it was anything but.’
      unpredictable, changeable, variable, inconstant, inconsistent, uncertain, erratic, irregular, unstable, turbulent, unsteady, unsettled, unreliable, undependable, changing, ever-changing, varying, shifting, fluctuating, fluid, mutable, protean, fitful, wavering, full of ups and downs
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Early 17th century: from French capricieux, from Italian (see capriccioso).