1650s, "an escape from confinement," from French escapade (16c.) "a prank or trick," from Spanish escapada "a prank, flight, an escape," noun use of fem. past participle of escapar "to escape," from Vulgar Latin *excappare (see escape (v.)). Or perhaps the French word is via Italian scappata, from scappare, from the same Vulgar Latin source. Figurative sense (1814) implies a "breaking loose" from rules or restraints on behavior.