Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ornamental covering for a horse or for its saddle or harness; trappings.
  • n. Richly ornamented clothing; finery.
  • transitive v. To outfit (a horse) with an ornamental covering.
  • transitive v. To dress (another) in rich clothing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The often ornamental coverings for an animal, especially a horse or an elephant.
  • v. To dress up a horse or elephant with ornamental coverings.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An ornamental covering or housing for a horse; the harness or trappings of a horse, taken collectively, especially when decorative.
  • n. Gay or rich clothing.
  • transitive v. To cover with housings, as a horse; to harness or fit out with decorative trappings, as a horse.
  • transitive v. To adorn with rich dress; to dress.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cover with a caparison, as a horse.
  • To dress sumptuously; adorn with rich dress.
  • n. A cloth or covering, more or less ornamented, laid over the saddle or furniture of a horse, especially of a sumpter-horse or horse of state.
  • n.
  • n. Clothing, especially sumptuous clothing; equipment; outfit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. put a caparison on
  • n. stable gear consisting of a decorated covering for a horse, especially (formerly) for a warhorse

Etymologies

Obsolete French caparasson, from Old Spanish caparazón, from Medieval Latin cappa, cloak; see cape1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle French, from Old Spanish caparazón. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • His caparison was another mortification and failure.

    Boy Life Stories and Readings Selected From The Works of William Dean Howells

  • The riderless horse is known as a caparison, a custom that dates to the time of Genghis Khan.

    Telegraph.co.uk: news business sport the Daily Telegraph newspaper Sunday Telegraph

  • Here and there were solitary pavilions of cataphracts brought low by the shiver-and-shake, some with horses waiting in full caparison, as if their masters expected to ride to battle.

    Wildfire

  • Among many other things, it contains a detailed description of the Milanese war wagon: wrapped entirely in scarlet cloth, it was so enormous it had to be drawn by three pairs of the biggest and strongest oxen; each of these beasts wore a white caparison marked with a red cross.

    Delizia!

  • The only cheerfulness in the local color was to be noted in the caparison of the donkeys, which we were to find more and more brilliant southward.

    Familiar Spanish Travels

  • With die and drab I purchased this caparison, and my revenue is the silly cheat.

    The Winter’s Tale

  • Since that time, we've used Sergeant York as our caparison horse, our riderless horse.

    CNN Transcript Jun 9, 2004

  • For the horse being richly adorned with golden trappings, and having a caparison of great value, the soldiers quarreled among themselves for the booty, so that while they were fighting with one another, and dividing the spoil, Pompey made his escape.

    The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans

  • As regards the assertion that this is a basin and not a helmet I have already given an answer; but as to the question whether this is a pack – saddle or a caparison I will not venture to give a positive opinion, but will leave it to your worships 'better judgment.

    Don Quixote

  • "As to whether it be pack – saddle or caparison," said the curate, "it is only for Senor Don Quixote to say; for in these matters of chivalry all these gentlemen and I bow to his authority."

    Don Quixote

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Comments

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  • The heavenly version I like the most
    Supports a cheerful, sybaritic host.
    To be richly caparisoned
    And lavishly garrisoned
    Would give best comfort to my ghost.

    October 1, 2014

  • "Mounting Sturmi, with its saffron housing and its caparison of indigo, and illustrious in his own gold strappings inlaid with opal. . ." Gilbert Adair translation of Georges Perec's La Disparition

    August 11, 2010

  • "... under this term is included, the bridle, saddle, and housing of a military horse." (citation in Historical Military Terms list description)

    October 10, 2008

  • Janny Wurts really likes using these old school words, which is where I first heard this one.

    November 8, 2007

  • Really? I always think of the horses at JFK's funeral procession, although I don't recall whether they were caparisoned.

    November 8, 2007

  • Whenever I hear this word, my brain automatically places it in the phrase "gaily caparisoned horses."

    November 8, 2007