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  • Adj.

capricious

kuh-PRI-shuhs

Context
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Steve’s girlfriend Adrienne changed her opinions and choices every moment of the day in a capricious and unpredictable way. Such capricious and shifting expressions of thought confused Steve, so he was never exactly sure what Adrienne wanted to do. Her inconstant, sudden, and capricious moods were also harmful to Steve’s peace of mind . . . and ultimately to their relationship.

Quiz: How does someone who is capricious act?

  • They don’t often tell other people how they are feeling because they consider that information private.
  • They act in an unpredictable way much of the time, keeping others guessing.
  • They often don’t take life or their obligations seriously, although once in a while they might.
Definition

Memory Hook
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Rice Precious or Cheap? Markets are very capricious, seeming to rise and fall at a moment's notice; rice could be precious today, cheap tomorrow, so its price is capricious.

Examples
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  • "Interim chiefs really don’t make those kinds of decisions, but this was an arbitrary, capricious kind of situation that has sent shock waves throughout the police force," Barry said. —The Washington Post
  • There is nothing capricious in nature, and the implanting of a desire indicates that its gratification is in the constitution of the creature that feels it. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, nineteenth century American writer and philosopher
  • The Brazilian formula is to crowd out enterprise or drive it underground with excessive spending and taxation, then to harass it further with capricious, nonsensical regulation. —The Economist

Word Ingredients
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capr goat
-ious of the nature of

Someone who acts capriciously is as unpredictable as the direction in which a “goat” may leap. This word could also come from the Latin word caput: “head.” A capricious person can unpredictably nod their head either up or down.

Word Theater
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Cosmos The capricious gods of yore were rather unpredictable.
Capricious

Word Constellation
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Capricious

Word Variants
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caprice n a sudden change in behavior or of mind