You searched for: “capricious
capricious (adjective), more capricious, most capricious
1. Relating to or indicative of a whim or irrational thinking; erratic: Shirley's such a capricious mother that her son doesn't know how she'll react when he tells her that he and his girl friend are engaged.
2. Characterized by or subject to impulsive and unpredictable behavior: Although we may enjoy a little unpredictability in life now and then, the term capricious is not ordinarily used in a positive sense; for example, a capricious wife can make a nervous wreck of her spouse.
3. Etymology: from Latin caput, "head" + riccio, "curled" or "frizzled".

The root of capricious is the noun caprice, which means "a whim' or "sudden change of mind" and caprice ultimately came from the Italian word capriccio, which also has the meaning of whim and at this point hedgehogs enter into the research of the etymology.

Hedgehogs are known for their spiky, spiny coats and the Italian capriccio is a combination of capo, "head" and riccio, "hedgehog", and its original meaning was "hedgehog head", a description of someone so frightened or astonished that the hair on his or her head "stood on end".

The transformation of the meaning of capriccio from "fright" to "whim" or "sudden impulse" seems to have involved another group of animals; namely, goats.

While the Italian word capra, "goat", is not directly related to capriccio, the similarity of the words and the skittish, flighty behavior of goats apparently gradually pushed capriccio away from "fright" and towards "whim". By the time "caprice" entered English in 1667, it meant simply "whim, erratic", or "notion".

—Compiled from information located in
Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto; Arcade Publishing;
Little, Brown and Company; New York; 1990; page 96.
Webster's Word Histories; Merriam-Webster, Inc.;
Springfield, Massachusetts; 1989; page 86.
Tending to make changes in whims or without valid reasons.
© ALL rights are reserved.

Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.

This entry is located in the following unit: capri-, capr- (page 1)
Word Entries at Get Words: “capricious
Characteristic of someone who is indecisive, inconsistent, or wavering from one idea to another one. (1)