• caparison •
kê-pær-i-sên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Ornamental trappings for a horse or other animal. 2. Finery; rich, elaborate clothing.
Notes: Here is the word for not only the trappings we see on horses ridden by the medieval nobility, but the outlandish finery of the nobility itself. This word may be used as a verb by itself, the past participle of which passes as an adjective: caparisoned. Do not confuse it with comparison.
In Play: Today's word seems to have referred to the ornamentation of horses before that of humans: "The local historical society put on a medieval dramatization that included real horses in historically accurate caparison." This word's meaning was soon extended to the finery humans are known to wear from time to time: "Did you see the caparison Maude Lynn Dresser wore to the wedding? It was just amazing!" Today in India elephants are richly caparisoned on special occasions.
Word History: Today's Good Word came either from French caparaçon, Spanish caparazón or Portuguese caparação. These words probably originated in an augmentative of medieval Latin caparo "chaperon", a hooded cape worn by old women after the 16th century. Caparo is derivative of capa "cape" from Late Latin cappa "hood, cape". This word is probably related to Classical Latin caput "head", though no one has figured out exactly how. Late Latin apparently picked cappa up from an unrelated language, but no one knows which language it was. (Today's Good word is another excellent find by William A. Hupy, a Lexiterian in the Alpha Agora.)