capricious


unpredictable, impulsive

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s CAPRICIOUS and poorly planned invasion of Ukraine stalls out due to unexpectedly stiff resistance and bungled logistics, a message is being sent beyond Moscow: Territorial conquest is no cakewalk. And you can be sure that, perhaps more than anyone else outside of Europe, policymakers in China and Taiwan are paying very close attention to Russia’s struggles.”

David Faris – The Week (15 March 2022)

Did you
know?

capricious
adjective

- changing mood or behaviour suddenly and unexpectedly

- changing according to no discernible rules; unpredictable

Cambridge Dictionary / Oxford English Dictionaries


ORIGINS

"Capricious" derives from the French capricieux and the Italian capriccioso, which refer to a free and impulsive style, especially in music.

"Capriccio" is an early 17th century word denoting a sudden change of mind. In Italian, it literally means “head with the hair standing on end”, hence the meaning of a sudden start. This was suggestive of the frisky movement of a goat capra + riccio hedgehog.

English is rich with words that derive from animals. Apart from capricious, others include:

- dandelion = from Old French dent de lion, or lion’s tooth, which refers to the description of the toothed leaves of the dandelion flower.

- vermicelli = the name of this thin pasta (or the Swiss chestnut dessert) stems from the Italian vermicelli, literally “little worms”.

- pedigree (a list of the parents and other relations of an animal) = from the Old French pied de gru, or crane’s foot, which alludes to the shape of a genealogical chart or family tree.

- vaccine = from the Latin variolae vaccīnae, or cowpox – the term was used by Edward Jenner, father of vaccination and discoverer of the small pox vaccine – and stems from the Latin vacca, cow.


CAPRICIOUS CALIGULA

Given his capricious ruthlessness and megalomania, Caligula was a dangerous emperor with whom to argue.

Caligula, famously, made his horse, Incitatus, a senator. Among its privileges: an ivory stable and a golden, wine goblet.

At full moon, in accordance with his claim to be on an equal footing with the gods, Caligula would invite the moon goddess to his bed. “Did you not see her?” he demanded of Aulus Vitellius (himself a future emperor) one evening.

“Alas no”, Vitellius tactfully replied, “Only you gods can see one another.”



SYNONYMS
- given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood, thinking or behaviour

aberrant, ad hoc, all over the map/place/shop, always changing, any old/which way, arbitrary, bipolar, blowing hot-and-cold, by accident/bits-and-pieces, CAPRICIOUS, catch-as-catch-can, chameleon-like, changeful, constantly changing, designless, devil-may-care, directionless, eccentric, erratic, ever-changing, fickle, fluctuating, haphazard, here and there, herky-jerky, higgledy-piggledy, hit-and-miss, ill-thought-out, impulsive, inconsistent, inconstant, indecisive, in fits and starts, irrational, likely to change, off-and-on, on-and-off, oscillating, quirky, random, rare, rarefied, reckless, recurrent, recurring, remiss, restless, rhythmic, rhythmical, scattershot, shot-in-the-dark, stop-and-go, temperamental, two-faced, unanticipated, unexpected, unforeseen, unfounded, unpredictable, unpremeditated, volatile, up-and-down, willy-nilly, yo-yo


SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Jim’s CAPRICIOUS behaviour makes him difficult to work with.”


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and,

Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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