set (one's) cap at (someone)

set (one's) cap at (someone)

dated To try to attract, secure, or win someone as a romantic partner or spouse. Said especially (though not exclusively) of a woman in pursuit of a bachelor. Well, if he insists on remaining so inhospitable, then I shall simply set my cap at a man with a greater sense of charm and decency. The ladies of this town shall all be setting their caps at Mr. Rutherford, now that his inheritance has left him quite wealthy. But don't you find it rather unseemly for a man of his age and station to set his cap at a girl who's barely of voting age?
See also: cap, set
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

set your cap at someone

If a woman sets her cap at a man, she tries to make him notice her, usually because she wants to marry him. If I were a little younger, I might have set my cap at him myself. Note: The idea behind this expression is that in the past women would wear their best cap in order to attract the attention of a man they wished to marry.
See also: cap, set, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

set your cap at

try to attract as a suitor. dated
See also: cap, set
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

set her cap

A woman's determination to attract a particular man. In the days when women's attire included head coverings, a woman who wanted to appeal to a man would wear her best bonnet. The phase was wellknown in the 18th century, when Jane Austen used it in Sense and Sensibility: “I abhor every commonplace phrase by which wit is intended; and ‘setting one's cap at a man,' or ‘making a conquest,' are the most odious of all.”
See also: cap, set
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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