AskDefine | Define caparison

Dictionary Definition

caparison n : stable gear consisting of a decorated covering for a horse, especially (formerly) for a warhorse [syn: trapping, trappings, housing, housings] v : put a caparison on; "caparison the horses for the festive occasion" [syn: bard, dress up]

User Contributed Dictionary



from caparazón.


  1. The often ornamental coverings for an animal, especially a horse or an elephant.
    19th c. And the green of the caparison of the horse, and of his rider, was as green as the leaves of the fir-tree, and the yellow was as yellow as the blossom of the broom. — Anon., tr. by Lady Charlotte Guest, The Mabinogion/The Dream of Rhonabwy.


  1. To dress up a horse or elephant with ornamental coverings.
    1593 Come, bustle, bustle; caparison my horse — Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 5, Scene 3.

Extensive Definition

A caparison is a covering, or cloth laid over a horse or other animal, especially a pack animal, or horse of state. In modern times, it is used mainly for decoration in parades and for historical reenactments.
In the Middle Ages, caparisons were part of the horse armour known as barding, which was worn during war or tournament. They were adopted in the twelveth century, in response to conditions of campaigning in the Crusades. An early depiction of a knight's horse wearing a caparison may be seen on the small Carlton-in-Lindrick knight figurine from the late 12th century.
Today, a caparison is used in bullfighting in the picador manner.
The word is Spanish, being an augmentative form of the Latin word cape, caput, "head".
caparison in French: caparaçon

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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