What Does 'Cap' & 'No Cap' Mean? The Slang Meanings & How To Use Them Correctly

Photo: getty
woman who isn't capping

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet in the last 48 hours you’ve probably emerged with some key questions. Is TikTok actually going to be shut down? Why are Addison Rae and Kourtney Kardashian friends?

But there are two questions that are the most important of all.

What does “cap” and “no cap” mean?

To put it simply, cap refers to lying, while no cap means — you guessed it — telling the truth. In context, however, the term can take on a variety of meanings.

Cap can be used to question whether or not someone is being honest, and no cap is often used as a disclaimer to let people know you’re not exaggerating or talking yourself up.

Capping is basically the act of lying or faking something.

Typically, the terms are used in the context of boasting. If someone is bragging about how many cars they own or how many guys are in their DMs, it’s possible they’re "capping" in order to make themselves look cooler.

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This term, like most trends these days, has become particularly popular on the video-sharing app TikTok. TikTok users frequently fill comments sections with the word cap or, to make things easier, simply throw in a cap emoji, usually in response to a story or video that they don’t believe.

Whether it’s some guy exaggerating an interaction he had with a girl, or someone poorly staging a prank they claim is real, you can often find that their comment section has more caps in it than a baseball field.

Origins of the Terms Cap and No Cap

This term and all of its derivatives probably found its way to TikTok because of the viral song “No Mentions” by YoungBoy Never Broke Again (the rapper also known as NBA YoungBoy or just YoungBoy) that TikTokers love to lip-sync to.

After rapping about his “new Maybach” and counting “fifties all in hunnids,” NBA YoungBoy warns off any doubters, assuring fans that these claims are “no cap.”

But cap didn’t begin on TikTok. It's a slang term borrowed primarily from the rap community but now exists in a wide variety of contexts on and off the internet.

The popularization of the term grew in 2017 thanks to Future and Young Thug’s collaboration on the track “No Cap.” The Atlanta rappers use the song to boast their successes, listing off the cars and designer clothing they’ve bought thanks to their fame. And given that the pair have a combined net worth of $48 million, it’s safe to assume there is no capping going on in the song.

Prior to this 2017 release, Chief Keef collaborator Gino Marley used the term on the 2011 track “Just In Case” to say, “I'm not with the lackin' / No slackin', no cappin',” likely referring to his desire to earn his wealth truthfully and not engage in the braggadocios exaggerations that we see in many other rap lyrics.

But Genius tracked the term “no cap” back to the 1980s where it appeared in tracks by Too Short, Willie D, Geto Boys, and UGK throughout the decade. In these songs, the lyrics are “high cap” or “high cappin',” but the context would suggest this version of the term means the same as the modern “no cap.”

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Genius also spoke to a linguistic professor, Dr. Sharese King, who suggested the term probably came from a game of “playing the dozens,” known in some areas as capping.

The game involves trading exaggerated insults and can be traced through the African-American community back as far as times of slavery. Remember those “Yo mama” jokes you used as a kid? That was capping.

Like all words, "cap" has taken on new meanings and evolved throughout language and music to become what it means today.

How to Use Cap, No Cap and Capping.

“Cap” means a lie, an exaggerated situation, or anything perceived as an untruth.

Example: “There’s no way that really happened. That’s cap.”

“No cap” means “no lie” or “for real,” typically used as a disclaimer for anything that could be perceived as cap.

Example: “Dude, I know this sounds fake, but no cap.”

“Cappin'” or “capping” means “lying” or “faking.”

Example: “He told me it was just a boys night, but I know he’s capping.”

“Capper” means someone who lies or is faking.

Example: “She always pretends to like everyone but she’s a capper.”

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Alice Kelly is an editor, writer and storyteller with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics. When she’s not creating content for Your Tango, you can catch her working on creative fiction and vintage shopping.