Webster 1913 Edition



[L., the head.]
The head; also, a knoblike protuberance or capitulum.
The top or superior part of a thing.
The council or ruling body of the University of Cambridge prior to the constitution of 1856.
and heads of colleges.
Caput mortuum
[L., dead head.]
(Old Chem.)
The residuum after distillation or sublimation; hence, worthless residue.

Definition 2024





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.
    • Lamb
      Your caputs and heads of colleges.

Related terms



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


caput m (uncountable)

  1. kaput

See also



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



caput n (genitive capitis); third declension

  1. head
  2. (New Latin, anatomy) headlike protuberance on an organ or body part, usually bone, for instance caput ulnae
  3. (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
  4. (figuratively) the vital part
  5. (of a river) origin, source, head
    • 23 BCE – 13 BCE, Horace, Odes 1.1
      nunc ad aquae lene caput sacrae.
  6. (figuratively) life
  7. capital city
  8. (poetic) leader, chief
  9. (in writings) division, section, paragraph, chapter

Usage notes

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


Third declension neuter.

Case Singular Plural
nominative caput capita
genitive capitis capitum
dative capitī capitibus
accusative caput capita
ablative capite capitibus
vocative caput capita

Alternative forms

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


  • (in writings: division, section, paragraph, chapter): capitulum

Derived terms



  • 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)
  • Félix Gaffiot (1934), “caput”, in Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Paris: Hachette.
  • Meissner, Carl; Auden, Henry William (1894) Latin Phrase-Book, 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, 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
  • head” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).