< /ˈyɑr əˌmɪər/, 1896–1967, Czech composer, in the U.S.


  1. a covering for the head, esp a small close-fitting one made of cloth or knitted
  2. such a covering serving to identify the wearer’s rank, occupation, etca nurse’s cap
  3. something that protects or covers, esp a small lid or coverlens cap
  4. an uppermost surface or partthe cap of a wave
    1. See percussion cap
    2. a small amount of explosive enclosed in paper and used in a toy gun
  5. sport, mainly British
    1. an emblematic hat or beret given to someone chosen for a representative teamhe has won three England caps
    2. a player chosen for such a team
  6. the upper part of a pedestal in a classical order
  7. the roof of a windmill, sometimes in the form of a dome
  8. botany the pileus of a mushroom or toadstool
  9. hunting
    1. money contributed to the funds of a hunt by a follower who is neither a subscriber nor a farmer, in return for a day’s hunting
    2. a collection taken at a meet of hounds, esp for a charity
  10. anatomy
    1. the natural enamel covering a tooth
    2. an artificial protective covering for a tooth
  11. See Dutch cap (def. 2)
  12. an upper financial limit
  13. a mortarboard when worn with a gown at an academic ceremony (esp in the phrase cap and gown)
  14. meteorol
    1. the cloud covering the peak of a mountain
    2. the transient top of detached clouds above an increasing cumulus
  15. cap in hand humbly, as when asking a favour
  16. if the cap fits British the allusion or criticism seems to be appropriate to a particular person
  17. set one’s cap for or set one’s cap at (of a woman) to be determined to win as a husband or lover

verb caps, capping or capped (tr)

  1. to cover, as with a capsnow capped the mountain tops
  2. informal to outdo; excelyour story caps them all; to cap an anecdote
  3. to cap it all to provide the finishing touchwe had sun, surf, cheap wine, and to cap it all a free car
  4. sport, British to select (a player) for a representative teamhe was capped 30 times by Scotland
  5. to seal off (an oil or gas well)
  6. to impose an upper limit on the level of increase of (a tax, such as the council tax)rate-capping
  7. hunting to ask (hunt followers) for a cap
  8. mainly Scot and NZ to award a degree to

abbreviation for

  1. Common Agricultural Policy: (in the EU) the system for supporting farm incomes by maintaining agricultural prices at agreed levels

abbreviation for

  1. capital
  2. capitalize
  3. capitalization
  4. capital letter

late Old English cæppe “hood, head-covering, cape,” from Late Latin cappa “a cape, hooded cloak” (source of Spanish capa, Old North French cape, French chape), possibly a shortened from capitulare “headdress,” from Latin caput “head” (see head (n.)).

Meaning “women’s head covering” is early 13c. in English; extended to men late 14c. Figurative thinking cap is from 1839 (considering cap is 1650s). Of cap-like coverings on the ends of anything (e.g. hub-cap) from mid-15c. Meaning “contraceptive device” is first recorded 1916. That of “cap-shaped piece of copper lined with gunpowder and used to ignite a firearm” is c.1826; extended to paper version used in toy pistols, 1872 (cap-pistol is from 1879).

The Late Latin word apparently originally meant “a woman’s head-covering,” but the sense was transferred to “hood of a cloak,” then to “cloak” itself, though the various senses co-existed. Old English took in two forms of the Late Latin word, one meaning “head-covering,” the other “ecclesiastical dress” (see cape (n.1)). In most Romance languages, a diminutive of Late Latin cappa has become the usual word for “head-covering” (e.g. French chapeau).


c.1400, “to put a cap on,” from cap (n.). Meaning “cover as with s cap” is from c.1600. Figurative sense of “go one better” is from 1580s. Related: Capped; capping.


  1. A protective cover or seal, especially one that closes off an end or a tip and that resembles a close-fitting head covering.


  1. catabolite gene activator protein

In addition to the idioms beginning with cap

  • cap and gown
  • cap in hand
  • cap it all

also see:

  • feather in one’s cap
  • hat (cap) in hand
  • if the shoe (cap) fits, wear it
  • put on one’s thinking cap
  • set one’s cap for

Also see underhat.

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