Definition of caption in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkapʃ(ə)n/


1A title or brief explanation accompanying an illustration, cartoon, or poster: he designed a series of posters with the caption: ‘No One is Innocent’
More example sentences
  • Bournemouth Council now uses cartoon captions on its posters to attract attention.
  • The captions accompanying posters (which showed streams of bright sunlight through the clouds) were written in mock bible-speak.
  • Every key work is illustrated and accompanied by an explanatory caption.
title, heading, wording, head, legend, inscription, explanation, description, rubric, label, motto, slogan
1.1A piece of text appearing on a cinema or television screen as part of a film or broadcast: the programme has a closing caption thanking the university for its cooperation
More example sentences
  • The film, punctuated by captions highlighting what the party considers key achievements, wasn't so much about setting out key pledges but setting a tone and feeling for Labour's protagonists.
  • To judge by the Estonian television captions, the first day of the Leaving Cert was marked by the coming together of two trade unions, EESTI and IIRIMAA.
  • And on the simplest level, there was a disconcerting clash between the postmodern textuality dispensed by the singers and the humble captions on the screen.
1.2 Law The heading of a legal document.
Example sentences
  • Deeds, captions on cases, and other legal forms like subpoenas all serve the purpose of giving notice, which is how lawyers and the courts communicate with the public.
  • The case is notable not for the momentousness of the underlying legal question but for its amusing caption.
  • Defendants' motion to remove Kama's name from the caption of this case is ALLOWED.


[with object]
Provide (an illustration) with a title or explanation: [with two objects]: the photograph was captioned ‘Three little maids’
More example sentences
  • The photographs are carefully captioned, providing simple but interesting details about the plants and creatures.
  • But the New York Times admired Magnussen's design when it was introduced and captioned its illustration of it ‘The Lights and Shadows of New York.’
  • Informative text provides a running commentary, and each photo is captioned with historical details.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'seizing, capture'): from Latin captio(n-), from capere 'take, seize'. Early senses 'arrest' and 'warrant for arrest' gave rise to 'statement of where, when, and by whose authority a warrant was issued' (late 17th century): this was usually appended to a legal document, hence the sense 'heading or accompanying wording' (late 18th century).

  • capable from mid 16th century:

    The first recorded sense of this was ‘able to take in’, physically or mentally. It comes from Latin capere ‘take or hold’ which is found in many other English words including: accept (Late Middle English) from ad- ‘to’ and capere; anticipation (Late Middle English) ‘acting or taking in advance’; capacity (Late Middle English) ‘ability to hold’; caption (Late Middle English) originally an act of capture; captive (Late Middle English); catch (Middle English); chase (Middle English); conceive (Middle English) literally ‘take together’; except (Late Middle English) ‘take out of’; incapacity (early 17th century) inability to hold; intercept (Late Middle English) to take between; perceive (Middle English) to hold entirely; prince; receive (Middle English) ‘take back’; susceptible (early 17th century) literally ‘that can be taken from below’.

Words that rhyme with caption


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cap|tion

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