Literally, a half turn made by a horse to the left or the right, which can also be a verb, ‘to caracole’. Deriving from the 17th century French ‘caracole’ meaning a snail’s shell or spiral. I love this figurative use by Virginia Woolf in Orlando, and the word’s inherent curling, curlicued sound.
‘No sooner had she said ‘Impossible’ than, to her astonishment and alarm, the pen began to curve and caracole with the smoothest possible fluency. Her page was written in the neatest sloping Italian hand with the most insipid verse she had ever read in her life.’
Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando, ed. Rachel Bowlby, Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992, p. 227