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uppercase

[ uhp-er-keys ]
/ 藞蕦p 蓹r藞ke瑟s /
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adjective
(of an alphabetical character) capital.
Printing. pertaining to or belonging in the upper case.
verb (used with object), up路per路cased, up路per路cas路ing.
to print or write with an uppercase letter.
noun
a capital letter.
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Compare lowercase.

Origin of uppercase

First recorded in 1730鈥40; upper1 + case2

Other definitions for uppercase (2 of 2)

upper case

noun Printing.
See under case2 (def. 8).

Origin of upper case

First recorded in 1675鈥85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does聽uppercase mean?

Uppercase means the same thing as capital in capital letter鈥攖he bigger, taller version of a letter (like W), as opposed to the smaller version, which is called a lowercase letter (like w).

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.

Uppercase can also be used as a verb meaning the same thing as capitalize鈥攖o make a letter a capital or uppercase letter. For example, to uppercase 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 uppercase) 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鈥攎eaning one鈥檚 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鈥檝e 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鈥檛 bother using uppercase letters in text messages unless they want to emphasize something.

Where does聽uppercase come from?

The first records of the word uppercase come from 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?

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

What are some synonyms for uppercase?

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

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

How is聽uppercase 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 for emphasis.

Try using聽uppercase!

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 uppercase in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for uppercase

upper case
/ printing /

noun
the top half of a compositor's type case in which capital letters, reference marks, and accents are kept
adjective (upper-case when prenominal)
of or relating to capital letters kept in this case and used in the setting or production of printed or typed matter
verb upper-case
(tr) to print with upper-case letters; capitalize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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