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 formsnight·capped, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nightcap

Contemporary Examples of nightcap

Historical Examples of nightcap

  • 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.


    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.

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

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