cantrip (n.)
"magical spell," 1719, a Scottish word of uncertain origin; despite much speculation it is unclear even where the word is divided, whether the second element is rope (perhaps a reference to knotted cords as magical devices) or trappa "a step" or some other thing.
Canuck (n.)
1835, perhaps a cross between Canada and Chinook, the native people in the Columbia River region. In U.S., often but not always derogatory. As an adjective from 1853.
canula
variant of cannula.
canvas (n.)
"sturdy cloth made from hemp or flax," mid-14c., from Anglo-French canevaz, Old North French canevach, Old French chanevaz, literally "made of hemp, hempen," noun use of Vulgar Latin adjective *cannapaceus "made of hemp," from Latin cannabis, from Greek kannabis "hemp," a Scythian or Thracian word (see cannabis).

Latin adjectives in -aceus sometimes were made in Romanic languages into nouns of augmentative or pejorative force. Especially as a surface for oil paintings from c. 1700; hence "an oil painting" (1764).
canvas-back (n.)
also canvasback, 1785 as a type of North American duck. Earlier as an adjective for a type of garment made of expensive stuff in front and cheap canvas in the back (c. 1600); from canvas (n.) + back (n.).
canvass (v.)
c. 1500, from alternative spelling of canvas (n.) and probably meaning, originally, "to toss or sift in a canvas sheet," hence "to shake out, examine carefully" (1520s); "to solicit votes" (1550s). The spelling with a double -s- dates from 16c. Compare Old French canabasser "to examine carefully," literally "to sift through canvas." Related: Canvassed; canvassing. As a noun related to this, attested from c. 1600.
canyon (n.)
"narrow valley between cliffs," 1834, from Mexican Spanish cañon, extended sense of Spanish cañon "a pipe, tube; deep hollow, gorge," augmentative of cano "a tube," from Latin canna "reed" (see cane (n.)). But earlier spelling callon (1560s) might suggest a source in calle "street."
canzone (n.)
1580s, from Italian canzone, from Latin cantionem (nominative cantio) "singing, song" (also source of Spanish cancion, French chanson), noun of action from past participle stem of canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). In Italian or Provençal, a song resembling the madrigal but less strict in style.
cap (v.)
c. 1400, "to put a cap on," from cap (n.). Meaning "cover as with a cap" is from c. 1600. Figurative sense of "go one better" is from 1580s. Related: Capped; capping.
cap (n.)
late Old English cæppe "hood, head-covering, cape," from Late Latin cappa "a cape, hooded cloak" (source of Spanish capa, Old North French cape, French chape), possibly a shortened from capitulare "headdress," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").

Meaning "women's head covering" is early 13c. in English; extended to men late 14c. Figurative thinking cap is from 1839 (considering cap is 1650s). Of cap-like coverings on the ends of anything (such as hub-cap) from mid-15c. Meaning "contraceptive device" is first recorded 1916. That of "cap-shaped piece of copper lined with gunpowder and used to ignite a firearm" is c. 1826; extended to paper version used in toy pistols, 1872 (cap-pistol is from 1879).

The Late Latin word apparently originally meant "a woman's head-covering," but the sense was transferred to "hood of a cloak," then to "cloak" itself, though the various senses co-existed. Old English took in two forms of the Late Latin word, one meaning "head-covering," the other "ecclesiastical dress" (see cape (n.1)). In most Romance languages, a diminutive of Late Latin cappa has become the usual word for "head-covering" (such as French chapeau).
cap-a-pie (adj.)
1520s, from Middle French cap-à-pie, literally "head to foot." The more usual French form is de pied en cap. The French words are from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head") + pedem "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot").
capability (n.)
1580s, from capable + -ity. Capabilities "undeveloped faculty or property" is attested from 1778.
capable (adj.)
1560s, from Middle French capable or directly from Late Latin capabilis "receptive; able to grasp or hold," used by theologians, from Latin capax "able to hold much, broad, wide, roomy;" also "receptive, fit for;" adjectival form of capere "to grasp, lay hold, take, catch; undertake; take in, hold; be large enough for; comprehend," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Related: Capably.
capacious (adj.)
1610s, "able to contain," from Latin capax (genitive capacis) "able to take in," from capere "to take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp" + -ous. Meaning "able to hold much" is from 1630s. Related: Capaciously; capaciousness.
capacitance (n.)
1893, from capacity + -ance.
capacitate (v.)
1650s, from Latin capacitas (see capacity) + -ate (2). Related: Capacitation.
capacitor (n.)
"device which stores electricity," 1926, from capacity with Latinate agent-noun ending.
capacity (n.)
early 15c., from Middle French capacité "ability to hold" (15c.), from Latin capacitatem (nominative capacitas) "breadth, capacity, capability of holding much," noun of state from capax (genitive capacis) "able to hold much," from capere "to take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Meaning "largest audience a place can hold" is 1908.
caparison (n.)
1570s, "cloth spread over a saddle," also "personal dress and ornaments," from Middle French caparasson (15c., Modern French caparaçon), from Spanish caparazón, perhaps from augmentative of Old Provençal caparasso "a mantle with a hood," or Medieval Latin caparo, the name of a type of cape worn by women, literally "chaperon" (see chaperon). Past participle adjective caparisoned is attested from c. 1600, from a verb caparison (1590s), from French caparaçonner, from caparaçon.
cape (n.1)
garment, late Old English capa, cæppe, from Late Latin cappa "hooded cloak" (see cap (n.)). The modern word and meaning ("sleeveless cloak") are a mid-16c. reborrowing from French cape, from Spanish, in reference to a Spanish style.
cape (n.2)
"promontory," late 14c., from Middle French cap "cape; head," from Latin caput "headland, head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). The Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa has been the Cape since 1660s. Sailors called low cloud banks that could be mistaken for landforms on the horizon Cape fly-away (1769).
Cape Cod
named 1602 by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold for the abundance of fish his men caught there. Cape Cod, in reference to houses reminiscent of New England architecture, is attested from 1916.
capeesh
variant spelling of capiche (q.v.).
Capella
bright northern star, the alpha of the constellation Auriga, by 17c., from Latin capella, literally "little she-goat" (Greek kinesai kheimonas), diminutive of capra "she-goat," fem. of caper "goat."
caper (v.)
1580s, apparently short for obsolete capriole "to leap, skip," probably from Italian capriolare "jump in the air" (see cab). Related: Capered; capering.
caper (n.1)
type of prickly Mediterranean bush, also in reference to the plant's edible buds, late 14c., from Latin capparis (source of Italian cappero, French câpre, German Kaper), from Greek kapparis "the caper plant or its fruit," which is of uncertain origin. Arabic kabbar, Persian kabar are from Greek. Perhaps reborrowed into English 16c. The final -s was mistaken for a plural inflection in English and dropped.
caper (n.2)
by 1590s, "playful leap or jump," from caper (v.); meaning "prank" is from 1840; that of "crime" is from 1926. To cut capers "dance in a frolicsome way" is from c. 1600.
capias (n.)
writ of arrest issued by a court, mid-15c., from Latin capias, literally "thou mayest take," typical first word of such a writ; properly 2nd person singular present subjunctive of capere "to catch, seize, hold," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."
capiche
1940s slang, from Italian capisci? "do you understand?" from capire "to understand," from Latin capere "seize, grasp, take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Also spelled coppish, kabish, capeesh, etc.
capillarity (n.)
1806, from French capillarité, from Latin capillaris (see capillary).
capillary (adj.)
1650s, "of or pertaining to the hair," from Latin capillaris "of hair," from capillus "hair" (of the head); perhaps related to caput "head" (but de Vaan finds this "difficult on the formal side" and "far from compelling, since capillus is a diminutive, and would mean 'little head', which hardly amounts to 'hair'"). Borrowed earlier as capillar (14c.). Meaning "taking place in capillary vessels" is from 1809. Capillary attraction attested from 1813. As a noun, "capillary blood vessel," from 1660s.
capital (n.1)
early 15c., "a capital letter," from capital (adj.). The meaning "capital city" is first recorded 1660s (the Old English word was heafodstol). The financial sense is from 1610s (Middle English had chief money "principal fund," mid-14c.), from Medieval Latin capitale "stock, property," noun use of neuter of capitalis "capital, chief, first." (The noun use of this adjective in classical Latin was for "a capital crime.")
[The term capital] made its first appearance in medieval Latin as an adjective capitalis (from caput, head) modifying the word pars, to designate the principal sum of a money loan. The principal part of a loan was contrasted with the "usury"--later called interest--the payment made to the lender in addition to the return of the sum lent. This usage, unknown to classical Latin, had become common by the thirteenth century and possibly had begun as early as 1100 A.D., in the first chartered towns of Europe. [Frank A. Fetter, "Reformulation of the Concepts of Capital and Income in Economics and Accounting," 1937, in "Capital, Interest, & Rent," 1977]
Also see cattle, and compare sense development of fee, pecuniary.
capital (adj.)
early 13c., "of or pertaining to the head," from Old French capital, from Latin capitalis "of the head," hence "capital, chief, first," from caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Meaning "main, principal, chief, dominant, most important" is from early 15c. in English. Capital letter for an upper case one is attested from late 14c. The modern informal sense of "excellent, first-rate" is dated from 1762 in OED (as an exclamation of approval, OED's first example is 1875), perhaps from earlier use of the word in reference to ships, "first-rate, powerful enough to be in the line of battle," attested from 1650s, fallen into disuse after 1918.

A capital crime (1520s) is one that affects the life or "head;" capital had a sense of "deadly, mortal" from late 14c. in English, a sense also found in Latin. The felt connection between "head" and "life, mortality" also existed in Old English: as in heafodgilt "deadly sin, capital offense," heafdes þolian "to forfeit life." Capital punishment was in Blackstone (1765) and classical Latin capitis poena. Capital gain is recorded from 1921. Capital goods is recorded from 1899. Related: Capitally.
capital (n.2)
"head of a column or pillar," late 13c., from Anglo-French capitel, Old French chapitel, or directly from Latin capitellum "little head," diminutive of caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
capital letter (n.)
late 14c.; see capital (adj.). So called because it is at the "head" of a sentence or word.
capitalise (v.)
chiefly British English spelling of capitalize (q.v.). For suffix, see -ize. Related: Capitalised; capitalising.
capitalism (n.)
1854, "condition of having capital;" from capital (n.1) + -ism. Meaning "political/economic system which encourages capitalists" is recorded from 1872.
capitalist (n.)
1791, "man of money," from French capitaliste, a coinage of the Revolution and a term of reproach; see capital (n.1) + -ist. Related: Capitalistic.
capitalization (n.)
1860, "act of converting (assets) to capital," noun of action from capitalize in the financial sense. Meaning "act of writing or printing in capital letters" is recorded from 1864.
capitalize (v.)
"write or print in capital letters," 1764, from capital (n.1) + -ize. Meaning "to convert (assets) to capital" is recorded from 1868. Related: Capitalized; capitalizing.
capitate (adj.)
"head-shaped," 1660s, from Latin capitatus "headed," from caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
capitation (n.)
1610s, "counting of heads," from Late Latin capitationem (nominative capitatio), noun of action from past participle stem of a verb derived from caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Meaning "levying of a poll tax" is from 1640s.
Capitol (n.)
"building where U.S. Congress meets," 1793 (in writings of Thomas Jefferson), from Latin Capitolium, temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome. Used earlier of Virginia state houses (1699). Its use in American public architecture deliberately evokes Roman republican imagery. With reference to the Roman citadel, it is recorded in English from late 14c., via Old North French capitolie. Relationship of Capitoline to capital is likely but not certain.
capitulate (v.)
1570s, "to draw up in chapters" (i.e., under "heads"), in part a back-formation from capitulation (q.v.), in part from Medieval Latin capitulatus, past participle of capitulare "to draw up in heads or chapters, arrange conditions." Often of terms of surrender, hence meaning "to yield on stipulated terms" (1680s). Related: Capitulated; capitulating.
capitulation (n.)
1530s, "an agreement," from Middle French capitulation, noun of action from capituler "agree on specified terms," from Medieval Latin capitulare "to draw up in heads or chapters, arrange conditions," from capitulum "chapter," in classical Latin "heading," literally "a little head," diminutive of caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Meaning narrowed by mid-17c. to "make terms of surrender."
capitulum (n.)
used in various senses in English, from Latin capitulum, literally "little head," diminutive of caput "head," also "leader, guide, chief person; summit; capital city; origin, source, spring," figuratively "life, physical life;" in writing "a division, paragraph;" of money, "the principal sum," from PIE root *kaput- "head."
capnography (n.)
also (and originally) kapnography, "drawing by means of smoke" (or carbon deposited by a flame), 1871, from Greek kapnos "smoke" + -graphy. See "Art-Journal," vol. x, p. 249. Related: Capnographic; kapnographic.
capnomancy (n.)
"divination by smoke," c. 1600, from Latinized form of Greek kapnos "smoke" + -mancy.
capo (n.2)
"pitch-altering device for a stringed instrument," 1946, short for capo tasto (1876), from Italian, literally "head stop," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
capo (n.1)
"leader of a Mafia 'family,' " 1952, Italian, literally "head," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").