Capiche, Capeesh, Capische – Meaning & Usage

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Depending on where you live, hearing the word capisci at the end of a sentence may be commonplace, but what does this word mean? And where does it come from? And how is it spelled?

Capisce, capiche, capische, or capeesh are all spelling variations of the Italian word, capisci. A question mark follows this pseudo-Italian slang and means “understand?”. It is used at the end of a sentence as an interjection to ask, “know what I mean?”.

Capiche or Capeesh?

This casual American slang interpretation of the Italian word capisci is commonly spelled capiche or capisce. Recognized variations include capische and capeesh, but they are far less common and, in some places, considered incorrect. 

Origins of Capisci

Capisci Italian

Capisci comes from the Italian verb capire, meaning “to understand” and made its way into writing during the 1700s. It was picked up as a popular slang English word during the 1940s when spelling variations became predominant in writing. 

It likely gained popularity during this time due to depictions of Italian Americans and the American Mafia in film and grew with household television ownership. Use it as an interjection to confirm understanding or provide authority after a statement or direction. 

For example:

  • I’m heading down to the laundry, and while I’m gone, you are to keep this door locked. Capisce?
  • I just need you to pay closer attention and practice more so you can get a better grade. Capisce?

How to Pronounce Capisci

The formal Italian pronunciation of capisci is “cah-PEE-sheh”, and the pronunciation applies to almost all spelling variations. 

In Italian and English slang, it is pronounced “cah-PEESH”, turning the three-syllable word into two short syllable sounds. 

American Spelling of Capisci

Capisce Capiche Capeesh Capische American English

When it comes to blending foreign words into the English language, we try to spell the word how it sounds. This is why there are so many variations of the spelling capisci. Some spellings are more acceptable than others. Capisce and capiche, the two closest in spelling to the original, are considered the most acceptable and popular. 

How to Use Spelling Variations of Capisci in a Sentence

Despite the many variations in the spelling, only a few are easily found in publications. Take a look at which ones pop up the most in examples:

Below you will be able to find the answer to “Capisce?,” in ’70s slang crossword clue which was last seen in New York Times, on August 26, 2021. [New York Times]

“There are no free lunches. It’s the money that counts. Capisce? Understand?” [LA Times]

Anders burst out laughing. He covered his mouth with both hands and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” then snorted helplessly through his fingers and said, “Capiche-oh, God, capiche,” [Washington Post]

Let’s Review 

Capisci is the original Italian spelling of the word pronounced “cah-PEE-sheh” which means “understand?”. It has been absorbed into the English language as an American slang word and used as an interjection at the end of sentences to confirm meaning or create authority after giving directions. 

It has many spelling variations based on pronunciation, including the two-syllable “cah-PEESH”.