English edit

Etymology edit

Borrowed from Latin captiō (deception, fraud), from the past participle of capiō (I take, I seize) (English capture). Compare Middle English capcioun (seizure, capture).

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ˈkæp.ʃən/
  • (file)

Noun edit

caption (plural captions)

  1. (typography) The descriptive heading or title, of a document or part thereof.
  2. A title or brief explanation attached to an illustration, cartoon, user interface element, etc.
    • 1964 September, “New Books: The History of Railways. By Erwin Berghaus. Barrie & Rockcliff. 35s.”, in Modern Railways, page 222:
      Some of the photographs are new and interesting, but many captions are amateurish, uninformative or simply careless.
  3. (cinematography, television) A piece of text appearing on screen as a subtitle or other part of a film or broadcast, describing dialogue (and sometimes other sound) for viewers who cannot hear.
    • (theater, performance production) By analogy, text in a similar system used in a performance venue for transcription of a live event.
  4. (law) The section on an official paper (for example, as part of a seizure or capture) that describes when, where, and what was taken, found or executed, and who authorized the act.
  5. (obsolete, law) A seizure or capture, especially of tangible property (chattel).
    • 1919 Thomas Welburn Hughes. A treatise on criminal law and procedure. The Bobbs-Merril Co., Indianapolis, IN, USA. Sec. 557 (p. 378).
      The caption and asportation must be felonious.

Usage notes edit

In live or recorded audiovisual performance, captions is an umbrella term for closed captions (abbreviated CC) and open captions. Closed captions are visible only to the intended users: on television, via a decoding device, setting, or software; in cinema or performance venues, via a captioning device provided at certain seats or visible using special glasses. Open captions are visible to everyone watching—in many opera houses, for example, there are surtitles (also called supertitles) projected above the stage or on devices at each seat showing the libretto, often translated into the local language. Some countries require educational or government/public-service television programs to be open-captioned for the benefit of the deaf, hard of hearing, developmentally disabled, or people learning the local language.

In film and video, captions may transcribe or describe all dialogue and significant sounds for viewers who cannot hear it, while subtitles translate foreign-language dialogue. This distinction is sometimes made using the term subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), which corresponds to (closed/open) captions, while the general term subtitles is reserved for onscreen transcription intended for the use of a hearing audience. For instance, SDH or captions may include annotations such as (sirens) (to describe a sound) or (angrily) (to describe a tone of voice), where subtitles do not, on the assumption that the subtitle users can hear the sound or tone of voice.

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Verb edit

caption (third-person singular simple present captions, present participle captioning, simple past and past participle captioned)

  1. To add captions to a text or illustration.
    Only once the drawing is done will the letterer caption it.
  2. To add captions to a film or broadcast.

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Anagrams edit