“The capricious captain was constantly changing course; it was particularly difficult for the crew to adjust to his latest caprice.”

What is the best definition of caprice?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Strong and effective leadership
Choice B - Annoyance or irritation to others
Choice C - An impulse or sudden change of mind
Choice D - An attempt at self indulgence or self gain


Caprice (noun) – a sudden change of mind without apparent motive; or, a sudden desire or impulse

Capricious (adjective) – characterized by caprice; or, impulsive and lacking rationale

GRE pro tips:

The words caprice and capricious come from the Latin caput for head. Other words derived from caput include captain – the head of the ship – and to decapitate – meaning to “cut the head off of.” (And, of course, the name for the caps you wear on your head.) The noun caprice, on the other hand, refers to a sudden desire or change of mind (or, head space) for no apparent reason. And, likewise, the adjective capricious means impulsive and lacking rationale.

Interestingly, caprice is often ascribed to leaders or authoritarian heads (as in the “caprices of unrestrained power”), but ordinary people can be capricious, too. If you acted on impulse and plucked a feather from a stranger’s cap, it would be an act of caprice.

Example sentences:

“The menu varied greatly, depending on the caprices of the chef – one day it was Polynesian cuisine, and the next, only cupcakes!

“It is impossible to buy a gift for Samantha; she’s capricious and fancies something new everyday.”