Word: caprice

Pronunciation: kə-PREES

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behavior

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

“Caprice” is a word I recently stumbled upon while reading. It caught my attention right away, probably because it sounded so lovely in my head. “Caprice”… Kind of sounds like an actress’s name, doesn’t it? The fact that it actually is is beside the point; I just knew I wanted to learn more about the word as soon as I saw it. Interestingly, I found it made perfect sense in the context of the story I was reading, as the character who said it was referring to the behavior of an actor. And as we all know, many actors have a reputation for being the unpredictable and melodramatic type…

A person’s “caprice” is an unexpected and abrupt shift in their mood or behavior. The word has an interesting etymology behind it – one of my favorites so far, in fact – as it shares its origins with the Italian word capriccio, usually referring to a lively piece of music. According to Oxford Dictionaries, it translates as “head with the hair standing on end” and has been used since the early 17th century to denote a sudden change of mind. This noun is evidently comprised of the roots capo “head” and riccio “hedgehog” (which at least explains its literal definition).

Honestly, I would love to try working “caprice” into some of my stories. I think it has a sweet ring to it, though it’s even more mellifluous in Italian (but then again, what word isn’t?). I’d certainly enjoy writing characters whose actions are dramatically inexplicable, much like the actor in the story I read. I’m sure you could have fun with this word too, and if you’re like me, it’ll be easy to draw from personal experience; I’m notorious among my immediate family for my “caprices”!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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