Dictionary.com

upper-case letters

Save This Word!

Capital letters. (Compare lower-case letters.)

QUIZ
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help
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.

VOCAB BUILDER

What are uppercase letters?

Uppercase letters are capital letters—the bigger, taller versions of letters (like W), as opposed to the smaller versions, which are called lowercase letters (like w).

Uppercase means the same thing as capital. Uppercase letters can also be called capitals.

Some uppercase letters are just larger, taller versions of their lowercase counterparts (like uppercase W and lowercase w or uppercase C and lowercase c), but in many cases the two versions of the letter take different forms altogether, such as uppercase A and lowercase a or uppercase B and lowercase b.

To capitalize a word is to make its first letter an uppercase letter. For example, to capitalize the word polish (which is here spelled with a lowercase p), you would write it with an uppercase P, as Polish.

The state of being capitalized or uppercase (or the process of making a letter an uppercase letter) is called capitalization, as in Please check your paper for proper punctuation and capitalization.

In English, uppercase letters are used at the beginning of words for a few different reasons. It is considered a standard rule of English to use an uppercase letter to start proper nouns (which are nouns that refer to specific people, places, or things—meaning one’s that have specific names), such as Jess, Mexico, and Nintendo. Using an uppercase letter at the start of a word can change the way the reader interprets its meaning, as in the case of polish (a verb meaning to make something shinier) and Polish (an adjective describing someone from Poland) or apple (the fruit) and Apple (the company).

We also use an uppercase letter for the first letter of the first word in a sentence. Sometimes, we use an uppercase letter for the first letter of each word in a title, as in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. This is sometimes called title case.

Some acronyms and abbreviations are written using all uppercase letters, such as NASA and U.S. A word written entirely in uppercase letters (like WHAT) is said to be written in caps or all caps.

Example: A lot of people don’t bother using uppercase letters in text messages unless they want to emphasize something.

Where does uppercase letter come from?

The term uppercase letter has been used since at least the 1730s. The words uppercase and lowercase come from printing. The process of physically printing things with printing presses involved trays, called cases, that were divided into compartments for holding different kinds of type (blocks with letters on them). The upper case held capital letters and the lower case held what came to be known as lowercase letters.

It can be confusing to know whether or not to use an uppercase letter in certain situations, but a capitalization guide can help.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to uppercase letter?

  • upper-case letter (alternate hyphenated spelling)
  • upper case letter (alternate two-word spelling)

What are some synonyms for uppercase letter?

What are some words that share a root or word element with uppercase letter?

What are some words that often get used in discussing uppercase letter?

How are uppercase letters used in real life?

Uppercase letters are used in the beginning of names and other proper nouns, at the beginning of sentences, at the beginning of words in titles, and in some abbreviations. In casual use, a word might be written in uppercase letters for emphasis.

Try using uppercase letters!

Which of the following kinds of words is often spelled with an uppercase letter at the beginning?

A. proper nouns
B. the first word in a sentence
C. the first word in a title
D. all of the above

How to use upper-case letters in a sentence

FEEDBACK