AskDefine | Define caput

Dictionary Definition



1 a headlike protuberance on an organ or structure; "the caput humeri is the head of the humerus which fits into a cavity in the scapula"
2 the upper part of the human body or the front part of the body in animals; contains the face and brains; "he stuck his head out the window" [syn: head] [also: capita (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Indoeuropean *kauput-. Cognates include German Kopf and Haupt.


  1. head
  2. anatomical term; headlike protuberance on an organ or body part, usually bone, for instance caput ulnae
  3. a disease; a severe swelling of the soft tissues of a newborn's scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal.
  4. The vital part
  5. In the context of "of a river": origin, source, head
    • Horace, Carmina, 1:1
      nunc ad aquae lene caput sacrae.
  6. life
  7. capital city
    • Ovid, Ab Urbe Condita, 1:16
      ut mea Roma caput orbis terrarum sit
    • Ovid, Ab Urbe Condita, 8:4
      Romam caput Latio esse
  8. In the context of "poetic|lang=la": leader, chief


Usage notes

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


L&S Online Etymology Dictionary

Extensive Definition

The Latin root caput, for "head" or "top", has been borrowed in a variety of English words, including capital, captain, and decapitate. The name "Caputo", common in the Campania region of Italy, comes from the title used by some Roman military generals, and a variant form has surfaced more recently in the title Capo ( or Caporegime), the head of La Cosa Nostra. French converted caput into chief, chef, and chapitre, later borrowed in English as chapter.
Caput is the term used to describe the central manor in an agricultural estate.
Caput is the name of the council or ruling body of the University of Cambridge prior to the constitution of 1856.
It is also used in medicine to describe any headlike protuberance on an organ or structure, such as the caput humeri


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