caper

Definitions

Agriculture

  • noun a Mediterranean shrub (Capparis spinosa) the flower buds of which are used as a flavouring

Food

  • The flower bud of a small Mediterranean bush, Capparis spinosa or C. inermis, which is pickled in brine for use in sauces and on pizzas.

Travel

  • noun the flowerbud of a Mediterranean bush, which is pickled and used in sauces or as a garnish for fish and meat

Origin & History of “caper”

Caper ‘jump about’ (16th c.) and the edible caper (15th c.) are two different words. The former is a shortening of capriole ‘leap’, now obsolete except as a technical term in horsemanship, which comes via early French capriole from Italian capriola, a derivative of the verb capriolare ‘leap’, which in turn was formed from capriolo ‘roebuck’; its ultimate source was Latin capreolus, a diminutive form of caper ‘goat’ (whence the English astrological term Capricorn, literally ‘goat’s horn’). (The French by-form cabrioler was the source of English cab.) Caper ‘edible bud’ came via French câpres and Latin capparis from Greek kápparis; the earliest English form was capres, but this came to be misinterpreted as a plural, and the -s was dropped from the singular in the 16th century.
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