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The Collaborative International Dictionary
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"leader of a Mafia 'family,' " 1952, Italian, literally "head" (see head (n.)).


"pitch-altering device for a stringed instrument," 1946, short for capo tasto (1876), from Italian, literally "head stop" (see head (n.)).


Etymology 1 n. A movable bar placed across the fingerboard of a guitar used to raise the pitch of all strings. Etymology 2

n. A leader in the Mafia; a caporegime.


n. the head of a branch of an organized crime syndicate


A capo ( or ; short for capo d'astro, capo tasto or capotasto , Italian for "head of fretboard"; Spanish, '' capodastro'' ) is a device used on the neck of a stringed (typically fretted) instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch. It is frequently used on guitars, mandolins, and banjos. The word derives from the Italian "capotasto" which means the nut of a stringed instrument. The earliest known use of the term "capotasto" is by Giovanni Battista Doni who, in his Annotazioni of 1640, uses it to describe the nut of a viola da gamba. The first patented capo was designed by James Ashborn of Wolcottville, Connecticut, USA.

Musicians commonly use a capo to raise the pitch of a fretted instrument so they can play in a different key using the same fingerings as playing open (i.e., without a capo). In effect, a capo uses a fret of an instrument to create a new nut at a higher note than the instrument's actual nut.

There are several different capo designs, but most commercial capos consist of a rubber-covered bar that clamps to the instrument's neck in some way to hold down the strings. Capos come in different sizes and shapes for different instruments and fretboard curvatures. The most relevant mechanical factors that vary by type of capo are ease of use, size, degree of interference with the player's hands, and ability to hold down strings uniformly without affecting tuning. All types of capo should be applied after a fresh tuning by laying the barre, descending from above, and directly behind the fret, so that all of the strings have uniform position and pressure. If the strings are bent or mispositioned, the instrument will sound out of tune in the new key. Some types of capo can mar the neck of the guitar if applied incorrectly.

Musicians use capos on many stringed instruments: guitars, mandolins, mandolas, banjos, bouzoukis—virtually any instrument that has strings suspended over a fretted fingerboard. Capos exist for square-necked resonator guitars, some of which do not contact the neck, but clamp above and below the strings.

Capo (disambiguation)

A capo is a device that is attached to the frets of a string instrument to raise the pitch of each string. It may also refer to:

Capo (album)

Capo is the fifth studio album by American hip hop recording artist Jim Jones. It was released April 5, 2011, by E1 Music and Epic Records in the United States.

Capo (surname)

Capo is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

  • Anthony Capo, Italian-American mobster
  • Fran Capo, motivational speaker, adventurer, comedian, voice-over artist, and writer
  • Rene Capo, Cuban-American judoka

Usage examples of "capo".

XII The permission of the Maggior Consiglio, under favor of this imperious government, was equivalent to a command and a public betrothal, and for a few ecstatic days the heir of the Ca' Giustiniani went about in a state of exaltation too great to be aware of any home shadows--the slumbering anger of the Capo of the Ten and an inharmonious atmosphere wherein each was intensely conscious of an individual estimate of the great event which touched them all so nearly.

The filing of the decree of the Senate had acted like a charm upon our Capo of the Ten: the importance thus accorded to the Ca' Giustiniani soothed every vestige of wounded pride, while the beauty and grace of his prospective daughter-in-law had filled him with a triumph which only the frigid stateliness of his habitual demeanor enabled him to conceal, so great was the revulsion from his former state of feeling.

The great Al Capone is gonna be in my bed by the end 271 Rita Clay Estrada of the week.

Leopold and Loeb, Capone and Dillinger, Gacy and Gein, Speck and Bundy, and the rest of the parolees from oblivion strolled away, a swaggering gait, leaving the cornfield, hitting the dark road that passed outside the farm, a short walk that would take them into the heart of a town called Plum Creek.

Capo di Monte, and Majolica that it soon became a great problem to tell the real from the imitation, and this has caused collectors no end of trouble.

Diamond, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Al Capone and all the other folk-heroes I had watched James Cagney and Paul Muni and George Raft impersonate on the silver screen, Saturday afternoon in Painesville, Ohio.

Intanto uno degli agenti di cotesto sacerdozio camminava a capo basso attanagliato nei polsi da Orazio e da Attilio mentre Muzio apriva la via, non facile ad aprirsi, in mezzo a quella moltitudine.

Piquett, with his Capone connections, a pal of Lingle himself, himself a witness at the trial for having seen Lingle shortly before the murder, that this very man Piquett should defend the guy who supposedly shot Lingle.

Attorney Louis Piquett apparently had some friends in high places in Florida- or rather Al Capone did.

Cape Race, which is almost within sight, was the Capo Razzo of its Portuguese discoverer.

Tutti corsero alla marina festosi ad accogliere la cara ospite, seguiti pure dal vecchio capo della famiglia che per gli anni e i malanni divenuto lento seguiva da lontano la giovine e svelta brigata.

Working vertically, with a new bone structure and system of balance, Capo was already preadapted to walking on two feet.

Subito dietro alla Camilla, erano entrati alcuni dei giovani rimasti di guardia al di fuori e al loro capo raccontavano come quella donna al chiarore del lampo li avesse scoperti, come si fosse slanciata verso il loggione, senza che fosse stato possibile, in modo alcuno, trattenerla.

Qui bisogna ordinare la marcia, pensai tra me, e spinger la vecchia in capo fila.

Appena ancorata i nostri amici videro scendere da Capo Liberi, piccolo villaggio che domina il porto, un gruppo di gente che giunse alla marina, imbarcossi in un palischermo e si diresse verso lo Yacht.