Definition of caption in English:



  • 1A title or brief explanation appended to an article, illustration, cartoon, or poster.

    • ‘One important artwork that represents that style is highlighted on each poster, along with four smaller reproductions with short explanatory captions and a timeline.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘Every key work is illustrated and accompanied by an explanatory caption.’
    • ‘Maybe it's not so easy writing witty captions to New Yorker cartoons.’
    • ‘Pain Free in Six Weeks is liberally interspersed with light-hearted illustrations and informative captions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 photographs date from 1895 through 1906; they are accompanied by captions and entries about Chinese American history.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their expressive, almost-human faces and brief, tragic captions brought me to tears, and I had to sit down and wipe my eyes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Each picture is accompanied by the informative captions describing the history the area covered in this book.’
    • ‘The caption to the cartoon says, ‘Awkward predicament for you to solve.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A piece of text appearing on a movie or television screen as part of a movie or broadcast.
      • ‘Remember when newsreaders just read the news, without the caption and the illustration and the crawl at the bottom of the screen?’
      • ‘Apparently this caption appeared on Sky News last night.’
      • ‘By rights, the lower half of the TV screen should then have been filled by a caption reading: ‘CHEERS!’’
      • ‘A caption flashes across the screen listing the substitutes for both teams.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘First, a note on the film's opening caption, which reads, ‘Based on a true story.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Display text captions with each video stream.’
      • ‘Dear BBC, that's not the best caption to use on screen for the latest information about the Space Shuttle disaster, is it?’
      • ‘Prior to this weather charts had been presented on screen with captions.’
      • ‘In the first scene of the film a caption informs us that the events take place in ‘Southern Italy, 1978.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The caption, ‘Six Months Later’ appears on the screen for a moment.’
      • ‘I started to pay more attention and noticed that they had captions at the top and the bottom of the screen.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For any broadcast program with TV captions, you can immediately reuse them, which is something nobody is doing.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2Law The heading of a legal document.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The case is notable not for the momentousness of the underlying legal question but for its amusing caption.’
      • ‘Defendants' motion to remove Kama's name from the caption of this case is ALLOWED.’


[WITH OBJECT]usually be captioned
  • Provide (an illustration) with a title or explanation.

    with two objects ‘the photograph was captioned “Three little maids.”’
    ‘the drawings were captioned with humorous texts’
    • ‘They've been taking similar liberties recently in their entertainment sections, captioning photographs of celebrities with made-up quotes.’
    • ‘The painting is captioned with a quote from Nichols, explaining that all nationality disappears as a combatant drowns.’
    • ‘Informative text provides a running commentary, and each photo is captioned with historical details.’
    • ‘Indeed, Natural History wrongly captioned the photo on page 76.’
    • ‘Even more surprising is that some of the illustrations, including Figure 3, are not captioned at all.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Min advised that photos as published were not of this incident and were captioned so.’
    • ‘Now that the contest is under way, every week features three cartoons in various stages of being captioned.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The next day, the newspaper captioned his photo, ‘Baby Doll.’’
    • ‘It wasn't an issue with the robot photos, but some photographs are captioned with quite extraordinary zeal and passion.’
    • ‘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 actually captioned and identify the unfamiliar faces - an unusual courtesy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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!’’
    • ‘For example, a photograph of an all-female press club board of governors was captioned.’
    • ‘He is fiercely protective of his pictures, printing each one himself, handling them with protective gloves, captioning them meticulously while Shelly records them.’
    • ‘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 photographs are carefully captioned, providing simple but interesting details about the plants and creatures.’
    • ‘I don't think the 31 officials were aware that the photographs were incorrectly captioned, I certainly was not.’


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).