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Attested c.1384, in sense “taking, seizure”, borrowed from Old French capcion or directly from Latin captiō, from the past participle of capiō (I take, I seize) (English capture).



caption (plural captions)

  1. (typography) The descriptive heading or title of a document or part therof
  2. A title or brief explanation attached to an illustration, cartoon, user interface element, etc.
  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.