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See also: red cap


Alternative forms[edit]


red +‎ cap.

In sense of "porter", 1890s US; compare contemporary Japanese 赤帽 (akabou). On Labor Day, 1890, John Williams,[1] an African-American railway porter, tied a red ribbon to his black uniform cap to stand out from the crowd at Grand Central Terminal. The strategy was so successful that it was soon adopted by others in the profession, leading to the synecdochic use of redcap as a term for all railway porters.[2]


redcap (plural redcaps)

  1. (Britain) A member of the Royal Military Police a unit in the British army.
  2. (US) A porter in a US railway station.
  3. (Britain, archaic) The European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis).
  4. (Britain, folklore) A type of evil goblin or imp.
    • 1876: Porter & Coates (pub.), Reliques of Ancient English Poetry
      Lord Soulis he sat in Hermitage Castle,
      And beside him Old Redcap sly; —
      "Now, tell me, thou sprite, who are meikle of might,
      The death that I must die?"
    • 1890: Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales
      "What's a Brownie?" you say. Oh, it's a kind of a sort of a Bogle, but it isn't so cruel as a Redcap! What! you don't know what's a Bogle or a Redcap!
    • 2002: Cecilia Dart-Thornton, The Ill-Made Mute: The Bitterbynde [1]
      [] the goblin had aroused the mercenary's ire. This seemed to bring out a formidable and hitherto unrecognized talent in the taciturn young man.
      "Why cam' ye by my door?" The redcap brandished his pikestaff menacingly.
      Redcap - A malevolent goblin easily distinguishable by their namesake red cap, fiery red eyes, claws and iron boots. They often appear as little old men, but can run very fast despite the boots. They reside in castles and watchtowers along the English-Scottish border, but will move their residence to avoid detection. They have sharp eagle’s talons which they use for weapons, but can easily be repelled simply by reading holy verse. [2]
    • 1999, J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
      After boggarts, they studied Red Caps, nasty little goblinlike creatures that lurked where there had been bloodshed []
  5. A breed of poultry.
    Red Cap: A rare member of the English class, these are characterized by having a large rose comb. They are one of the few breeds with red earlobes that lay white-shelled eggs. Content: Chicken Breeds and Varieties (A2880), John L. Skinner, University of Wisconsin-Madison [3]

Derived terms[edit]


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