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  1. a sleeveless garment of various lengths, fastened around the neck and falling loosely from the shoulders, worn separately or attached to a coat or other outer garment.
  2. the capa of a bullfighter.
verb (used with object), caped, cap·ing.
  1. (of a matador or capeador during a bullfight) to induce and guide the charge of (a bull) by flourishing a capa.

Origin of cape1

1350–1400; Middle English (north); Old English -cāp (see cope2), reinforced in 16th century by Spanish capa < Late Latin cappa hooded cloak, cope2
Related formscaped, adjective


  1. a piece of land jutting into the sea or some other large body of water.
  2. the Cape.
    1. Northeastern U.S.Cape Cod.
    2. Cape of Good Hope.
  3. capeskin.
verb (used without object), caped, cap·ing.
  1. Nautical. (of a ship) to have good steering qualities.
  1. (initial capital letter) pertaining to the Cape of Good Hope or to South Africa: a Cape diamond.

Origin of cape2

1350–1400; Middle English cap < Middle French < Old Provençal < Vulgar Latin *capum for Latin caput head
Can be confusedcape peninsula promontory


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1. point, promontory, headland, spit.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cape

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • We camped near the sea, a few miles to the westward of Cape Pasley.

  • Of course you are familiar with the peculiar conformation of Cape Cod.

  • Mrs. Roberts recognized the bonnet and cape with a smile of satisfaction.

  • It was Cape Clear, and we were heading for it as straight as we could go.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • We went out without any accident, arriving in safety at Cape Henry.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for cape


  1. a sleeveless garment like a cloak but usually shorter
  2. a strip of material attached to a coat or other garment so as to fall freely, usually from the shoulders

Word Origin

C16: from French, from Provençal capa, from Late Latin cappa; see cap


  1. a headland or promontory

Word Origin

C14: from Old French cap, from Old Provençal, from Latin caput head


noun the Cape
  1. the SW region of South Africa, in Western Cape province
  2. See Cape of Good Hope
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cape


garment, late Old English capa, cæppe, from Late Latin cappa "hooded cloak" (see cap (n.)). The modern word and meaning ("sleeveless cloak") are a mid-16c. reborrowing from French cape, from Spanish, in reference to a Spanish style.


"promontory," late 14c., from Middle French cap "cape; head," from Latin caput "headland, head" (see capitulum). The Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa has been the Cape since 1660s. Sailors called low cloud banks that could be mistaken for landforms on the horizon Cape fly-away (1769).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cape in Science


  1. A point or head of land projecting into a body of water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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