Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



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


  • IPA(key): /ˈkæp.ʃən/
  • (file)


caption (plural captions)

  1. (typography) The descriptive heading or title of a document or part thereof
  2. A title or brief explanation attached to an illustration, cartoon, user interface element, etc.
    • 1964 September, “New Books: The History of Railways. By Erwin Berghaus. Barrie & Rockcliff. 35s.”, in Modern Railways, page 222:
      Some of the photographs are new and interesting, but many captions are amateurish, uninformative or simply careless.
  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 notes[edit]

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 terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



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.