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, "a playful leap or jump, a skip or spring as in dancing," from caper (v.). Meaning "prank" is from 1840 via notion of "sportive action;" that of "crime" is from 1926. To cut capers "dance in a frolicsome way" is from c. 1600.

caper (v.)

"to leap, skip, prance," 1580s, apparently short for obsolete capriole "to leap, skip," which is probably from Italian capriolare "jump in the air" (see cab). Related: Capered; capering.

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