Definition of caption in English:



  • 1A title or brief explanation accompanying an illustration, cartoon, or poster:

    ‘he designed a series of posters with the caption: ‘No One is Innocent’’
    • ‘The caption over your illustration of the proposed extension to the library at the University of York would surely be more apt if it read 1920s revisited.’
    • ‘Brief descriptive captions would have enhanced the understanding of the life of the people and perhaps added more understanding to the text of the folktales as well.’
    • ‘Each picture is accompanied by the informative captions describing the history the area covered in this book.’
    • ‘The names of persons in the photographs should be clearly labelled on the back along with captions, titles or explanations.’
    • ‘Interviews, explanations and captions accompany and illuminate throughout.’
    • ‘One important artwork that represents that style is highlighted on each poster, along with four smaller reproductions with short explanatory captions and a timeline.’
    • ‘Now he's showing some other older work - similar to the picture above but this other series contrasts images of rich and poor people accompanied by captions written by them.’
    • ‘The caption to the cartoon says, ‘Awkward predicament for you to solve.’’
    • ‘The photographs date from 1895 through 1906; they are accompanied by captions and entries about Chinese American history.’
    • ‘Their expressive, almost-human faces and brief, tragic captions brought me to tears, and I had to sit down and wipe my eyes.’
    • ‘The illustrations are often accompanied by explanatory captions which detail information not found in the text and this makes the book interesting to page through.’
    • ‘Maybe it's not so easy writing witty captions to New Yorker cartoons.’
    • ‘Along with information, the paintings which were on display at the India Habitat Centre on June 21 and 22, were accompanied with captions, anecdotes and even poems.’
    • ‘The caption to the illustration on page 185 describes Tom Thomson as ‘a distinguished member of the Canadian artists known as the Group of Seven.’’
    • ‘Pain Free in Six Weeks is liberally interspersed with light-hearted illustrations and informative captions.’
    • ‘Every key work is illustrated and accompanied by an explanatory caption.’
    • ‘When I looked at the cartoon I tried to come up with all the aspects of it; I tried to incorporate the whole cartoon into the little caption.’
    • ‘Bournemouth Council now uses cartoon captions on its posters to attract attention.’
    • ‘Each image will be accompanied by a caption and a small digital image of the building as it looks today.’
    • ‘The captions accompanying posters (which showed streams of bright sunlight through the clouds) were written in mock bible-speak.’
    title, heading, wording, head, legend, inscription, explanation, description, rubric, label, motto, slogan
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    1. 1.1 A piece of text appearing on a cinema or television screen as part of a film or broadcast:
      ‘the programme has a closing caption thanking the university for its cooperation’
      • ‘Display text captions with each video stream.’
      • ‘A caption flashes across the screen listing the substitutes for both teams.’
      • ‘I started to pay more attention and noticed that they had captions at the top and the bottom of the screen.’
      • ‘Apparently this caption appeared on Sky News last night.’
      • ‘First, a note on the film's opening caption, which reads, ‘Based on a true story.’’
      • ‘The caption, ‘Six Months Later’ appears on the screen for a moment.’
      • ‘The Pentagon became adept at supplying video-game-like pictures of U.S. missile strikes at the same time that it began to provide the large-type captions on TV screens.’
      • ‘However, according to the archived video of the ad linked above, media reports and interviews with a high-level campaign official and political experts, the caption did not appear in the original ad.’
      • ‘In the first scene of the film a caption informs us that the events take place in ‘Southern Italy, 1978.’’
      • ‘By rights, the lower half of the TV screen should then have been filled by a caption reading: ‘CHEERS!’’
      • ‘Prior to this weather charts had been presented on screen with captions.’
      • ‘Remember when newsreaders just read the news, without the caption and the illustration and the crawl at the bottom of the screen?’
      • ‘For any broadcast program with TV captions, you can immediately reuse them, which is something nobody is doing.’
      • ‘Dear BBC, that's not the best caption to use on screen for the latest information about the Space Shuttle disaster, is it?’
      • ‘And on the simplest level, there was a disconcerting clash between the postmodern textuality dispensed by the singers and the humble captions on the screen.’
      • ‘To judge by the Estonian television captions, the first day of the Leaving Cert was marked by the coming together of two trade unions, EESTI and IIRIMAA.’
      • ‘The film, punctuated by captions highlighting what the party considers key achievements, wasn't so much about setting out key pledges but setting a tone and feeling for Labour's protagonists.’
      • ‘A static caption on screen for several minutes on end is unusual today but was a staple of television graphics from the fifties to the early eighties.’
      • ‘It's only in the second third of the film - when the captions disappear and Slim's on the run - that Enough becomes the film it should've been.’
      • ‘The new version also does not display the lyrics of the national anthem on the screen, ‘because the captions would interfere with the film's visuals,’ Lin said.’
    2. 1.2Law The heading of a legal document.
      • ‘Deeds, captions on cases, and other legal forms like subpoenas all serve the purpose of giving notice, which is how lawyers and the courts communicate with the public.’
      • ‘Defendants' motion to remove Kama's name from the caption of this case is ALLOWED.’
      • ‘If yes, provide details of each case or proceeding on an attached sheet, including caption, court and index or docket number, the particulars, and the disposition.’
      • ‘The case is notable not for the momentousness of the underlying legal question but for its amusing caption.’


  • Provide (an illustration) with a title or explanation:

    [with two objects] ‘the photograph was captioned ‘Three little maids’’
    • ‘But the New York Times admired Magnussen's design when it was introduced and captioned its illustration of it ‘The Lights and Shadows of New York.’’
    • ‘The painting is captioned with a quote from Nichols, explaining that all nationality disappears as a combatant drowns.’
    • ‘I don't think the 31 officials were aware that the photographs were incorrectly captioned, I certainly was not.’
    • ‘He is fiercely protective of his pictures, printing each one himself, handling them with protective gloves, captioning them meticulously while Shelly records them.’
    • ‘Min advised that photos as published were not of this incident and were captioned so.’
    • ‘And the few reproduced images are captioned with the name of the copyright holder of the photographic reproduction, but not with the location of the original work.’
    • ‘Apparently bored in a cabinet meeting, he captioned one sketch of John Foster Dulles with the then popular little axiom, ‘Dull, duller, Dulles.’’
    • ‘The photographs are carefully captioned, providing simple but interesting details about the plants and creatures.’
    • ‘Now that the contest is under way, every week features three cartoons in various stages of being captioned.’
    • ‘Informative text provides a running commentary, and each photo is captioned with historical details.’
    • ‘The next day, the newspaper captioned his photo, ‘Baby Doll.’’
    • ‘Indeed, Natural History wrongly captioned the photo on page 76.’
    • ‘None of the photographs was captioned or identified in any way, so that they posed, innocently, as a generic representation of Cork and Galway at play on a sunny afternoon.’
    • ‘Even more surprising is that some of the illustrations, including Figure 3, are not captioned at all.’
    • ‘It wasn't an issue with the robot photos, but some photographs are captioned with quite extraordinary zeal and passion.’
    • ‘I went to Yahoo to search for her pic, and a stupid fan of hers (I suppose he is deluded) captioned the photos I found as ‘Very very pretty!’’
    • ‘They've been taking similar liberties recently in their entertainment sections, captioning photographs of celebrities with made-up quotes.’
    • ‘Because the stories were laid out and captioned by editors - not photographers - they generally do not reveal the circumstances behind the photos or give the photographer's viewpoint.’
    • ‘The photographs are actually captioned and identify the unfamiliar faces - an unusual courtesy.’
    • ‘For example, a photograph of an all-female press club board of governors was captioned.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘seizing, capture’): from Latin captio(n-), from capere take, seize. Early senses ‘arrest’ and ‘warrant for arrest’ gave rise to ‘statement of where, when, and by whose authority a warrant was issued’ (late 17th century): this was usually appended to a legal document, hence the sense ‘heading or accompanying wording’ (late 18th century).