Capitol Hill


: the legislative branch of the U.S. government

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Capital and Capitol: Which One to Use Where

What a pair these are: they sound identical and look nearly identical and both have meanings that relate to government. Mastering their use, however, is simple.

The key is this: capitol, the one with an "o," is very limited in use. It appears in the term Capitol Hill, and is used to refer to one very particular and famous building, to some other similar buildings, and, occasionally, to a group of buildings that includes those similar buildings. For all other meanings, the word you want is capital.

This means that in a state's capital city is a building or group of buildings properly referred to with the word capitol, with an "o." In this use capitol is synonymous with statehouse: both refer to the building or group of buildings where a state legislature meets. The phrase capital city utilizes capital because it refers to a city, not to a building or group of buildings.

Capitol with a capital "C" refers to the particular building in Washington, D.C. where the U.S. Congress meets. It often appears before other nouns in phrases like the Capitol building and Capitol police, and is very frequently used in the term Capitol Hill, which refers both to the legislative branch of the United States government as well as to the location of the Capitol building. The Capitol, like many state capitol buildings, has a rounded dome that is somewhat reminiscent of the top of an "o," which may help some remember the "o" spelling. Note that the word capital as used to describe an uppercase letter, like in the phrase capital "C", utilizes capital.

The word capital has three distinct homographs, two for noun uses and one for adjective uses. Readers should consult those entries for the various meanings of capital, but can be assured that they all end in al, rather than ol.

Examples of Capitol Hill in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Cohen’s appearance was her first testimony on Capitol Hill since she was appointed as the CDC’s 20th director in the summer, NBC News reported. Antonio Pequeño Iv, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 An off-duty FBI agent in an agency vehicle was carjacked Wednesday afternoon near Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill in Northeast Washington, according to D.C. police and the FBI. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 So far, only 13 of the 49 Republican senators on Capitol Hill have officially announced their endorsement of Trump, including Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rick Scott of Florida. Olivia Rinaldi, CBS News, 29 Nov. 2023 Unlock this article — plus daily intelligence on Capitol Hill and the life sciences industry — by subscribing to STAT+. John Wilkerson, STAT, 29 Nov. 2023 The 14-term lawmaker recently announced his decision to call it quits after 27 years on Capitol Hill, part of an exodus of more than three dozen congressional members rushing the exits rather than seeking reelection. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 28 Nov. 2023 His stance against the provision comes as the conglomerate wages a major lobbying offensive on Capitol Hill. Jimmy Quinn, National Review, 28 Nov. 2023 On Capitol Hill, there are moderate Democrats that are also engaging in these conversations. Nbc Universal, NBC News, 26 Nov. 2023 This past week's stunning lack of civility on Capitol Hill may offer a glimpse as to why. CBS News, 19 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Capitol Hill.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Capitol Hill, Washington, site of the U.S. Capitol

First Known Use

1935, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Capitol Hill was in 1935

Dictionary Entries Near Capitol Hill

Cite this Entry

“Capitol Hill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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