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Originated in the United States in 1793, as cauvaut, applying to horses, probably from the colloquial intensifying prefix ca-/ka- + vault (jump, leap); later generalized. Early sources connect it to cavault, a term for a certain demeanor of horses. Alternatively, a variation of curvet.[1]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /kəˈvɔːt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /kəˈvɔɹt/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔː(ɹ)t


cavort (third-person singular simple present cavorts, present participle cavorting, simple past and past participle cavorted)

  1. (originally intransitive, of horses) To prance, frolic, gambol.
    • 1920, Peter B. Kyne, chapter I, in The Understanding Heart:
      [] when the young man whirled his horse, “hazed” Jupiter in circles and belaboured him with a rawhide quirt, [] He ceased his cavortings []
  2. (intransitive) To move about carelessly, playfully or boisterously.
    Synonyms: romp, frolic, prance, caper
    • 1900, Guy Wetmore Carryl, “The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet”, in Mother Goose for Grownups:
      And dragon-flies sported around and cavorted, / As poets say dragon-flies ought to do; []
    • 1911, Jack London, “Chapter XI”, in The Cruise of the Snark:
      He whirligigged and pirouetted, dancing and cavorting round like an inebriated ape.
    • 2008, Philip Roth, Indignation:
      [] and soon a high-spirited snowball fight was being waged by dozens of happy, hyperkinetic boys cavorting in dungarees and T-shirts, in sweatsuits, in pajamas, even some in only underwear.
    • 2020 June 26, Ceylan Yeginsu, “Lockdown? What Lockdown? Heat Wave Brings Britons Out in Droves”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      They descended by the tens of thousands on Britain’s southern beaches and jammed into city parks. They cavorted by the hundreds in streams.
    • 2021 February 24, Nicholas Kulish, “When Influencers Make Fools of Themselves”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN:
      [] while a woman in a bright red coat cavorts through a crosswalk with what appears to be an impeccably groomed Afghan hound.
  3. (informal) To engage in extravagant pursuits, especially of a sexual nature.
    • 2014, Astra Taylor, quoting James Fallows, The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, Henry Holt and Company, →ISBN:
      We can't even write stories about moguls like Rupert Murdoch or Barry Diller unless it involves photographs of them cavorting with young flesh.


See also[edit]