Definitions

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

  • n. An impulsive change of mind.
  • n. An inclination to change one's mind impulsively.
  • n. A sudden, unpredictable action, change, or series of actions or changes: A hailstorm in July is a caprice of nature.
  • n. Music A capriccio.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An impulsive, seemingly unmotivated notion or action.
  • n. An unpredictable or sudden condition, change, or series of changes.
  • n. A disposition to be impulsive.
  • n. An impulsive change of mind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An abrupt change in feeling, opinion, or action, proceeding from some whim or fancy; a freak; a notion.
  • n. See Capriccio.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sudden start of the mind; a sudden change of opinion or humor, without apparent or adequate motive; a whim, freak, or particular fancy.
  • n. The habit of acting according to varying impulses; capriciousness.
  • n. Same as capriccio, 2.

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

  • n. a sudden desire

Etymologies

French, from Italian capriccio, from caporiccio, fright, sudden start : capo, head (from Latin caput; see kaput- in Indo-European roots) + riccio, curly (from Latin ēricius, hedgehog, from ēr).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French caprice, from Italian capriccio, from caporiccio ("fright, sudden start"): capo ("head"), from Latin caput + riccio ("curly"), from Latin ericius ("hedgehog"), or from Italian capro ("goat") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Paula seemed struck by the generous and cheerful fairness of his remarks, and said gently, 'Perhaps your departure is not absolutely necessary for my happiness; and I do not wish from what you call caprice --'

    A Laodicean : a Story of To-day

  • There is hardly any one here who can understand what they call my caprice of entering the priesthood, and these good people tell me, with rustic candor, that I ought to throw aside the clerical garb; that to be a priest is very well for a poor young man; but that I, who am to be a rich man’s heir, should marry, and console the old age of my father by giving him half a dozen handsome and robust grandchildren.

    March 22d. Part I.—Letters from My Nephew

  • They are guarded better by their calculations than a virgin by her mother and her convent; and they have invented the word caprice for that unbartered love which they allow themselves from time to time, for a rest, for an excuse, for a consolation, like usurers, who cheat

    Camille

  • Hervey, 'that she wondered that a man who was so well acquainted with the female sex should be surprised at any instance of caprice from a woman.'

    Belinda

  • There was a tendency to de-personalize this divine being, and with this came an absence of caprice, that is, the regularity of natural phenomena was made to depend on a regularity in the operation of their cause or causes.

    CAUSATION

  • Yet that is the caprice, that is the unreasonable, the foul, the gross, the monstrous, the outrageous, incredible injustice of which we are hourly guilty towards the whole unhappy race of negroes.

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus

  • They are illustrations of a general physiological law that in some cases might be called a caprice of nature, in virtue of which the rudiments of a process that is to be effected at a future epoch are sketched out during an epoch already existing.

    The Education of American Girls

  • How funny it would be, if the French some day, as a novelty, or what they would call a caprice, were to try the effect of truth; "though not naturally honest," as Autolycus says, "were to become so by chance."

    Biographical Study of A W Kinglake

  • To behave according to caprice is to oscillate mechanically between two or more ready-made alternatives and at length to settle on one of them; it is no real maturing of an internal state, no real evolution; it is merely -- however paradoxical the assertion may seem -- bending the will to imitate the mechanism of the intellect.

    Evolution créatrice. English

  • The husband's faithlessness is called a caprice, an adventure, a craving or madness of the senses.

    His Excellency the Minister

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