• synonyms


noun, plural ca·pos.
  1. any of various devices for a guitar, lute, banjo, etc., that when clamped or screwed down across the strings at a given fret will raise each string a corresponding number of half tones.
  2. the nut of a guitar, lute, banjo, etc.
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Origin of capo1

1875–80; < Italian, shortening of capotasto capotasto
Also called capotasto.


[kah-poh, kap-oh]
noun, plural ca·pos.
  1. the chief of a branch of the Mafia.
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Origin of capo2

1960–65; < Italian: head, leader < Vulgar Latin *capum for Latin caput; cf. chief
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for capo

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I suppose that it is called Capo delle Gatte in reference to these cats.


    Franz von Lher

  • He had been chief of the Quarantia; three times a capo of the Ten.

  • A Capo broke it in pieces and removed the ducal cap from his head.

  • The bulls' heads on the frieze gave it the popular name of Capo di Bove.

    Walks in Rome

    Augustus J.C. Hare

  • The capo's authority was shaken in a paranza which was a paranza no longer.

    "Persons Unknown"

    Virginia Tracy

British Dictionary definitions for capo


noun plural -pos
  1. a device fitted across all the strings of a guitar, banjo, etc, so as to raise the pitch of each string simultaneouslyAlso called: capo tasto (ˈkæpəʊ ˈtæstəʊ) Compare barré
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Word Origin

from Italian capo tasto head stop


noun plural -pos
  1. the presumed title of a Mafia leader
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Word Origin

Italian: head
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 capo


"leader of a Mafia 'family,' " 1952, Italian, literally "head" (see head (n.)).

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"pitch-altering device for a stringed instrument," 1946, short for capo tasto (1876), from Italian, literally "head stop" (see head (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper