Word Confusion: Capital versus Capitol

Posted December 5, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This one used to confuse me as well until I realised the O reminded me of a big mouth, and when you consider that the first entry under the definition for Capitol refers to Washington, D.C., well, ’nuff said…

It does make it easier to distinguish between capital and capitol when you realize the latter is only a building where a bunch of blowhards get together.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Capital Capitol
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Image courtesy of Wikipedia and the Brooklyn Museum


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Exclamation;
Noun
Plural: capitals
Noun
Plurals: capitols
Adjective:
[Of an offense or charge] Liable to the death penalty

Of or relating to wealth

Of greatest political importance

[Of a letter of the alphabet] Large in size and of the form used to begin sentences and names

[Informal; dated] Excellent

Exclamation:
[British; informal; dated] Used to express approval, satisfaction, or delight

Noun:
[Also capital city or town] The most important city or town of a country or region, usually its seat of government and administrative center

  • [With adjective] A place associated more than any other with a specified activity or product

Wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing

  • The excess of a company’s assets over its liabilities
  • People who possess wealth and use it to control a society’s economic activity, considered collectively
  • [With adjective; figurative] A valuable resource of a particular kind

[Also capital letter] A letter of the size and form used to begin sentences and names

[Architecture] The distinct, typically broader section at the head of a pillar or column 1

The seat of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C.

  • [Capitol] A building housing a legislative assembly

The temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome

Examples:
Adjective:
Murder was a capital crime.

capital losses

the capital city

a capital letter

He’s a really capital fellow.

Exclamation:
That’s splendid! Capital!

Noun:
Washington, D.C. is the capital city of the United States.

Milan is the fashion capital of the world.

The senior partner would provide the initial capital.

Rates of return on invested capital were high.

a conflict of interest between capital and labor.

There is insufficient investment in human capital.

He wrote the name in capitals.

I’m meeting the senator at the Capitol.

Some 50,000 people marched on New Jersey’s state capitol.

History of the Word:
Middle English relating to the head or top. Later it evolved to include standing at the head or beginning via Old French from the Latin capitalis, which is from caput, meaning head.

1 Middle English from the Old French capitel, which is from the late Latin capitellum or little head, a diminutive of the Latin caput.

1679
From the Old French capitolie, capitoile; it was later assimilated to Latin Capitolium from caput, capit-, meaning, again, head.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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