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[kuh-prish-uh s, -pree-shuh s] /kəˈprɪʃ əs, -ˈpri ʃəs/
subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change; erratic:
He's such a capricious boss I never know how he'll react.
Obsolete. fanciful or witty.
Origin of capricious
1585-95; < Italian capriccioso capriccioso
Related forms
capriciously, adverb
capriciousness, noun
noncapricious, adjective
noncapriciously, adverb
noncapriciousness, noun
uncapricious, adjective
uncapriciously, adverb
uncapriciousness, noun
1. variable, flighty, mercurial. See fickle.
1. steady, constant, consistent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for capricious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All is still on a colossal scale, but playful, capricious, phantasmagoric.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • How noisy and romping the brook was; how capricious, how playful, how furtive!

  • Art is not dignified by being called whimsical--or capricious.

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • Your duty to your capricious brother, not to your father, you mean, Madam.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • The rouge-et-noir player imagines that chance is not capricious.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
British Dictionary definitions for capricious


characterized by or liable to sudden unpredictable changes in attitude or behaviour; impulsive; fickle
Derived Forms
capriciously, adverb
capriciousness, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for capricious

1590s, from French capricieux "whimsical" (16c.), from Italian capriccioso, from capriccio (see caprice). Related: Capriciously; capriciousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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