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Capital vs. Capitol: Learn the difference

While “capital” is the most often used word with numerous connotations, “capitol” has only one meaning and is thus simple to remember.

Olaoluwa Ajayi
Olaoluwa Ajayi

Many similar-sounding terms in the English language confuse people because they have diverse meanings and must be used correctly. The words “capital” and “capitol” are two instances of homonyms. While “capital” is the most often used word with numerous connotations, “capitol” has only one meaning and is thus simple to remember.

What does capitol mean?

The word capitol comes from the French word “capitolie.” The state legislative meets in the Capitol, which is a building or structure. The term “Capitol” in the United States refers to the building in Washington, DC. The building happens to be on Capitol Hill. Congress meets here.

Because it includes an “O” that matches the shape of the dome that sits atop the building, this use of the term Capitol is easy to recall.

The hearing took place yesterday in the south wing of the Capitol.
Legislators appear in the state capitol every year.
The Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol in ancient Rome was also called the Capitol.

What does capital mean?

The word “capital” has its origins in medieval English. The term has a wide range of connotations. Let’s start by looking at each one individually.

  • The official city that acts as the seat of government is known as a country’s capital. Berlin, for example, is the capital of Germany.

For example, Paris, the fashion capital of the world, is a city that is at the core of a specific activity.

  • Capital can also refer to riches or properties; for example, it has a $5 million capital.
  • A capital letter, for instance, is always used to begin a person's name.
  • Something that expresses serious concern, for example, he deserves the death penalty for his capital offense.
  • The apex of a pillar or column is also referred to as the capital.
  • Capital can also refer to something that is notably distinct.
  • In British English, in informal speech, capital letters are used as an exclamation “to express agreement, satisfaction or joy.” For example,
That was a great achievement dear! Capital City!
  • The word capital is also used in expressions like:
Make capital out of it (use it for your own benefit).
She tries to capitalize on her mother-in-law's death.
She was absolutely stunning with a capital B.

Video examples:

Miss Sloane (2016)
Blood Diamond (2006)
Gladiator (2000)
Barton Fink (1991)
EnglishWhich is correct

Olaoluwa Ajayi

Writing is what I do in life. I like helping people in improving their skills and explaining any language topic they don't understand.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

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Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.