Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Clothing, especially sumptuous clothing; equipment; outfit.
  • To cover with a caparison, as a horse.
  • To dress sumptuously; adorn with rich dress.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • verb put a caparison on
  • noun stable gear consisting of a decorated covering for a horse, especially (formerly) for a warhorse

Etymologies

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

[Obsolete French caparasson, from Old Spanish caparazón, from Medieval Latin cappa, cloak; see cape.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle French, from Old Spanish caparazón.

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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Comments

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

    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

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

    November 8, 2007

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

    October 10, 2008

  • "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

  • 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