cavort

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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

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Verb[edit]

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

  1. (originally intransitive) To prance, said of mounts
    • 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.
    • 1900, Guy Wetmore Carryl, Mother Goose for Grownups, “The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet”:
      And dragon-flies sported around and cavorted, / As poets say dragon-flies ought to do; []
    • 1911, Jack London, The Cruise of the Snark, Chapter XI:
      He whirligigged and pirouetted, dancing and cavorting round like an inebriated ape.
    • 2008, Philip Roth, Indignation:
      At the start, the underclassmen who rushed to join them emptied out of Jenkins only, but when residents in the two dorms perpendicular to Jenkins looked from their windows at what was happening in the quad, they began pouring from Neil, then from Waterford, 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.

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