[ kap-i-tl ]
See synonyms for capital on
  1. the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc.: Tokyo is the capital of Japan.

  2. a city regarded as being of special eminence in some field of activity: New York is the dance capital of the world.

  1. the wealth, whether in money or property, owned or employed in business by an individual, firm, corporation, etc.

  2. an accumulated stock of such wealth.

  3. any form of wealth employed or capable of being employed in the production of more wealth.

  4. Accounting.

    • assets remaining after deduction of liabilities; the net worth of a business.

    • the ownership interest in a business.

  5. any source of profit, advantage, power, etc.; an asset or assets (usually used in combination): He has the political capital to push through the legislation.His indefatigable drive is his greatest capital.

  6. capitalists as a group or class (distinguished from labor): High taxation has reduced the spending power of capital.

  1. pertaining to financial capital: capital stock.

  2. principal; highly important: This guide offers suggestions of capital interest to travelers.

  1. chief, especially as being the official seat of government of a country, state, etc.: the capital city of France.

  2. excellent or first-rate: a capital hotel; a capital fellow.

  3. indicating a capital letter; uppercase: Nouns in German are capitalized, so Schatz is written with a capital “S.”

  4. involving the loss of life: capital punishment.

  5. punishable by death: a capital crime;a capital offender.

  6. fatal; extremely serious: a capital error.

Origin of capital

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English; (adjective) from Anglo-French or directly from Latin capitālis “of the head” (capit-, stem of caput “head” + -ālis adjective suffix; see -al1); (noun) from Medieval Latin capitāle “wealth,” noun use of neuter of the adjective capitālis

synonym study For capital

11. The adjectives capital, chief, major, principal apply to a main or leading representative of a kind. Capital may mean larger or more prominent; it may also suggest preeminence or excellence: capital letter, idea, virtue, etc. Chief means leading, highest in office or power: the chief clerk. Major may refer to greatness of importance, number, or quantity: a major operation, the major part of a population. Principal refers to most distinguished, influential, or foremost: principal officer.

confusables note For capital

The noun capital1 refers to a city or town that is the seat of government; to a capital letter as opposed to a lowercase letter; and to wealth or resources. The noun Capitol refers primarily to the building in Washington, D.C., in which Congress sits or to similar buildings used by state legislatures.

Other words for capital

Opposites for capital

Other words from capital

  • cap·i·tal·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with capital

  • capital , Capitol (see confusables note at the current entry)

Words Nearby capital

Other definitions for capital (2 of 2)

[ kap-i-tl ]

  1. the distinctively treated upper end of a column, pier, or the like.

Origin of capital

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English capital(e) “head of a pillar,” from Anglo-French capital, capitel, from Late Latin capitellum “capital of a column,” equivalent to capit- (stem of caput ) “head” + -ellum diminutive suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use capital in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for capital (1 of 2)


/ (ˈkæpɪtəl) /

    • the seat of government of a country or other political unit

    • (as modifier): a capital city

  1. material wealth owned by an individual or business enterprise

  1. wealth available for or capable of use in the production of further wealth, as by industrial investment

  2. make capital of or make capital out of to get advantage from

  3. (sometimes capital) the capitalist class or their interests: capital versus labour

  4. accounting

    • the ownership interests of a business as represented by the excess of assets over liabilities

    • the nominal value of the authorized or issued shares

    • (as modifier): capital issues

  5. any assets or resources, esp when used to gain profit or advantage

    • a capital letter: Abbreviation: cap., cap

    • (as modifier): capital B

  6. with a capital letter (used to give emphasis to a statement): he is mean with a capital M

  1. (prenominal) law involving or punishable by death: a capital offence

  2. very serious; fatal: a capital error

  1. primary, chief, or principal: our capital concern is that everyone be fed

  2. of, relating to, or designating the large modern majuscule letter used chiefly as the initial letter in personal names and place names and other uniquely specificatory nouns, and often for abbreviations and acronyms: Compare small (def. 9) See also upper case

  3. mainly British excellent; first-rate: a capital idea

Origin of capital

C13: from Latin capitālis (adj) concerning the head, chief, from caput head; compare Medieval Latin capitāle (n) wealth, from capitālis (adj)

British Dictionary definitions for capital (2 of 2)


/ (ˈkæpɪtəl) /

  1. the upper part of a column or pier that supports the entablature: Also called: chapiter, cap

Origin of capital

C14: from Old French capitel, from Late Latin capitellum, diminutive of caput head

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for capital (1 of 2)


In architecture, the top portion of a column.

Notes for capital

The form of the capital often serves to distinguish one style of architecture from another. For example, the Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic styles of Greek architecture all have different capitals.

Money used to finance the purchase of the means of production, such as machines, or the machines themselves.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with capital


see make capital out of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.