Borrowed from Latin caput (the head).



caput (plural caputs or capita)

  1. (anatomy) The head.
  2. (anatomy) A knob-like protuberance or capitulum.
  3. The top or superior part of a thing.
  4. (Britain) The council or ruling body of the University of Cambridge prior to the constitution of 1856.
  5. (medicine, colloquial) Ellipsis of caput succedaneum.

Related termsEdit

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for caput in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)




From German kaputt, from Yiddish קאַפּוט(kaput, lost, dead).


caput m (uncountable)

  1. kaput

See alsoEdit


Alternative formsEdit

  • (part or division of a writing): cap., c.


From Proto-Italic *kaput, from Proto-Indo-European *káput-. Cognates include German Haupt and English head.



caput n (genitive capitis); third declension

  1. (of human and animals) The head.
    1. (poetic) The head as the seat of the understanding.
  2. (transferred sense) (of inanimate things):
    1. (in general) The head, top, summit, point, end, extremity (beginning or end).
    2. (of rivers) The origin, source, spring (head).
    3. (rare) (of rivers) The mouth, embouchure.
    4. (botany, sometimes) The root.
    5. Vine branches.
    6. (poetic) (of trees) The summit, top.
  3. (literature) A man, person, or animal.
  4. (figuratively):
    1. Physical life.
    2. Civil or political life.
    3. (very frequently) The first or chief person or thing; the head, leader, chief, guide, capital.
  5. (writing) A division, section, paragraph, chapter.
    Synonym: capitulum
  6. (New Latin, anatomy) A headlike protuberance on an organ or body part, usually bone.
    caput ulnaehead of the ulna
  7. (New Latin, medicine) A disease; a severe swelling of the soft tissues of a newborn's scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal.

Usage notesEdit

Caput can be used with either a genitive or a dative in the sense of a capital city.


Third-declension noun (neuter, imparisyllabic non-i-stem).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative caput capita
Genitive capitis capitum
Dative capitī capitibus
Accusative caput capita
Ablative capite capitibus
Vocative caput capita

Derived termsEdit


See also descendants at capita.

  • Sardinian: kabude, kabudu, kabide
  • Vulgar Latin: capus (see there for further descendants)
  • English: caput
  • Portuguese: caput


  • caput in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • caput in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • caput in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • caput in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to uncover one's head: caput aperire (opp. operire)
    • to bow one's head: caput demittere
    • to cut off a man's head: caput praecīdere
    • to strike one's head against the wall: caput parieti impingere
    • source, origin: fons et caput (vid. sect. III., note caput...)
    • a man's life is at stake, is in very great danger: salus, caput, vita alicuius agitur, periclitatur, in discrimine est or versatur
    • the main dish: caput cenae (Fin. 2. 8. 25)
    • to put our heads together: capita conferre (Liv. 2. 45)
    • a person's life is in jeopardy: caput alicuius agitur (vid. sect. V. 8)
    • the main point: quod caput est
    • (ambiguous) bare-headed: capite aperto (opp. operto)
    • (ambiguous) with head covered: capite obvoluto
    • (ambiguous) to recklessly hazard one's life: in periculum capitis, in discrimen vitae se inferre
    • (ambiguous) to subtract something from the capital: de capite deducere (vid. sect. XII. 1, note Notice too...) aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to condemn some one to death: capitis or capite damnare aliquem
    • (ambiguous) to repeal a death-sentence passed on a person: capitis absolvere aliquem
    • (ambiguous) Solon made it a capital offence to..: Solo capite sanxit, si quis... (Att. 10. 1)
    • (ambiguous) to suffer capital punishment: supplicio (capitis) affici
  • caput in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • caput in Ramminger, Johann (accessed 16 July 2016) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700[2], pre-publication website, 2005-2016
  • caput in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin
  • Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “head”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  • Meyer-Lübke, Wilhelm (1911) , “caput”, in Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (in German), page 130



Borrowed from Latin caput (the head). Doublet of cabo, chefe, and chef.


caput m (plural caputs)

  1. that which is located above
  2. (law) a title or header of a legal article containing its central idea