[hwahyt-kap, wahyt-]


a wave with a broken and foaming white crest.

Origin of whitecap

First recorded in 1660–70; white + cap1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whitecap

Historical Examples of whitecap

  • A whitecap foamed above it and broke across in a snow-white smother.

    The Sea-Wolf

    Jack London

  • He is too near the water now; the glare and the dancing waves bother him; he loses his gleam of silver in the flash of a whitecap.

    Wood Folk at School

    William J. Long

  • And d'ye think I didn't see Mr. Whitecap going down, afore ye thought o' a row yerself?

    Gwen Wynn

    Mayne Reid

  • But the shore was protected by a double line of reefs, so close in that the channel between did not show a whitecap.

    Into the Primitive

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • In a wave without a whitecap the water returns to practically the original point after completing a circle beneath the surface.

    Climatic Changes

    Ellsworth Huntington

British Dictionary definitions for whitecap



a wave with a white broken crest
US a member of a vigilante organization that attempts to control a community
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 whitecap

1660s, of birds, from white + cap (n.). Attested from 1773 in reference to breaking waves, from 1818 of mushrooms, and from 1891 in reference to "one of a self-constituted band in U.S. who committed outrages under pretense of regulating public morals" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper