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[nahyt-kap] /ˈnaɪtˌkæp/
Informal. an alcoholic drink taken at bedtime or at the end of a festive evening.
a cap for the head, intended primarily to be worn in bed.
Sports Informal. the last event of the program for the day, especially the second game of a doubleheader in baseball or the last race of the day in horse racing.
Origin of nightcap
Middle English word dating back to 1350-1400; See origin at night, cap1
Related forms
nightcapped, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nightcap
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I suppose after what you've said it's no use asking you to have a nightcap, Vane?

    The Missionary George Griffith
  • A mug of mulled claret for a nightcap, and a good sleep, will set you all right.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • Do you remember the story of the 'Doctor' in the first nightcap book?

    The Big Nightcap Letters Frances Elizabeth Barrow
  • This is the night-shirt, and formerly a "nightcap" was used by some.

  • The word 'nightcap' is spelled with and without a hyphen in the text.

  • We know that in his case Love's clairvoyant instinct had got its nightcap on.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • When he at last sought his couch, he used from habit to keep his nightcap on.

    What the Moon Saw: and Other Tales Hans Christian Andersen
  • Then he took off his nightcap, combed his hair over his temples, and donned his cap.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
British Dictionary definitions for nightcap


a bedtime drink, esp an alcoholic or hot one
a soft cap formerly worn in bed
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 nightcap

also night-cap, late 14c., "covering for the head, worn in bed," from night + cap (n.). In the alcoholic sense, it is attested from 1818. American English sense of "final event in a sporting contest" (especially the second game of a baseball double-header) is from 1939.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nightcap



  1. A drink taken just before going to bed or the last drink of the evening, esp an alcoholic drink: Let's stop at Joe's for a nightcap (1818+)
  2. The second game of a doubleheader (1917+ Baseball)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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