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



caption (plural captions)

  1. (typography) The descriptive heading or title of a document or part therof
  2. A title or brief explanation attached to an illustration, cartoon, user interface element, etc.
  3. (cinematography) A piece of text appearing on screen as subtitle or other part of a film or broadcast.
  4. (law) The section on an official paper that describes when, where, what was taken, found or executed, and by whom it was authorized.
  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 notesEdit

In film and video, captions may transcribe or describe all significant dialogue and sound for viewers who cannot hear it, while subtitles translate foreign-language dialogue.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



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.