cap·​i·​tal·​ize | \ˈka-pə-tə-ˌlīz, ˈkap-tə-, British also kə-ˈpi-tə-\
capitalized; capitalizing

Definition of capitalize 

transitive verb

1 : to write or print with an initial capital or in capitals Capitalize the names of cities and states.

2a : to convert into capital capitalize the company's reserve fund

b : to treat as an amortizable investment in long-term capital assets rather than as an ordinary operating expense to be charged against revenue for the period in which it is incurred capitalize development costs

3a : to compute the present value of (an income extended over a period of time)

b : to convert (a periodic payment) into an equivalent capital sum capitalized annuities

4 : to supply capital for

intransitive verb

: to gain by turning something to advantage capitalize on an opponent's mistake

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Synonyms & Antonyms for capitalize


bankroll, endow, finance, fund, stake, subsidize, underwrite



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Examples of capitalize in a Sentence

Remember to capitalize the I in Internet. Capitalize the first word of your sentence. She rarely capitalizes her name when she signs her e-mails. The venture was capitalized with a loan of one million dollars. You can capitalize your investment at any time.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Certainly, Trump and his administration, more widely, have actively sought to capitalize on Christian nationalist rhetoric for political ends throughout Trump’s campaign and presidency. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "What one pastor’s anti-Nike protest says about religion and nationalism in America," 14 Sep. 2018 The striker demands so much attention from opposing center backs that Peru is often able to capitalize on acres of space from both wings. Luis Miguel Echegaray,, "Peru's World Cup Hopes Not Dashed Despite Paolo Guerrero's Suspension," 28 May 2018 Hasbro has a track record of developing products that kids can relate to, and with its growing presence in the digital market, Hasbro ought to be able to capitalize on kids seeking online entertainment. Seattle Times Staff, The Seattle Times, "The Motley Fool: Companies with cash a safe bet?," 21 Apr. 2018 When James' bulldozing ways forced the Pacers to put an extra body in his path, the Cavs were able to capitalize from the outside. Chris Fedor,, "Cleveland Cavaliers starting Kyle Korver helps unlock LeBron James, offense in Game 2," 19 Apr. 2018 Waist trainers, filters, photoshop, and plastic surgery used in marketing, promising to transform your body, when really their business model capitalizing on people’s insecurities. Elisabeth Akinwale, SELF, "Here's What Competing in the CrossFit Games Teaches You About Real Life," 18 May 2018 The 1996 movie Swingers went further, setting its narrative during the ’90s swing music revival to blatantly capitalize on the same retro phenomenon. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Finding the Soundtrack to My Desert Life," 25 Apr. 2018 RBC Capital Markets’ Gerard Cassidy says investors would be better off buying stock in banks more able to capitalize on the growing economy., "Fed Chair Jerome Powell Testifies to Congress," 1 Mar. 2018 In an attempt to capitalize on the re-popularity of the sauce, McDonald’s decided to bring it back for a special promotion in October. Adam Lukach, RedEye Chicago, "Szechuan sauce returns: McDonald's re-launches sauce at locations nationwide after last fall's botched promo," 26 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capitalize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of capitalize

1764, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for capitalize

see capital entry 2

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for capitalize

The first known use of capitalize was in 1764

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More Definitions for capitalize



Financial Definition of capitalize

What It Is

Capitalizing refers to the accounting practice of characterizing the costs of an asset purchase as a long-term asset on the balance sheet instead of an expense on the income statement.

How It Works

Companies capitalize the cost of asset purchases in order to spread out the cost of the assets over many reporting periods. This way, net income is not affected disproportionately in the reporting period in which the asset was purchased.

Rather than being listed as one large expense in one reporting period, a capitalized asset cost will be expensed via depreciation over many reporting periods. On the balance sheet, it will appear as a long-term asset and cash debit. The income statement will also account for a portion of the asset's cost via depreciation expenses.

To illustrate, suppose Company XYZ purchases equipment for $10,000. Rather than report the full $10,000 cost in that period, the company characterizes the purchase as a $10,000 long-term asset. On the balance sheet, the long-term asset account increases and the cash account decreases by $10,000.

As the long-term asset depreciates, the depreciation expense is reported on the income statement. As a result, Company XYZ's bottom line is not grossly affected by the substantial asset purchase in that period. The remainder of the $10,000 will, however, need to be continually reported as a depreciation expense until the asset has fully depreciated.

Why It Matters

Management's decision as to whether to capitalize or expense a purchase has a direct impact on its bottom line. If a company were to report the total cost of an asset purchase as an expense on its income statement (which is to say not capitalize), the cost, depending on the size, it would significantly reduce their net income figure for the reporting period.

Because earnings are probably the single most important indicator of a company's financial strength and growth potential, they are used by investment analysts to provide estimates of a company's growth potential and offer target price estimates for investors interested in purchasing shares. Therefore, company management has a huge interest in managing the way earnings are reported.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of capitalize

: to use a capital letter to write, print, or type (a letter of the alphabet)

: to begin (a word or name) with a capital letter

: to provide the money that is needed to start or develop (a business)


cap·​i·​tal·​ize | \ˈka-pə-tə-ˌlīz \
capitalized; capitalizing

Kids Definition of capitalize

1 : to write with a beginning capital letter or in all capital letters

2 : to provide money needed to start or develop (a business)

3 : to gain by turning something to advantage The winner capitalized on his opponent's mistakes.

Other Words from capitalize

capitalization \ ˌka-​pə-​tə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən \ noun

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transitive verb
cap·​i·​tal·​ize | \ˈka-pət-ᵊl-ˌīz \
capitalized; capitalizing

Legal Definition of capitalize 

1a : to convert into capital capitalize the company's earnings

b : to treat as a capital expenditure rather than an ordinary and necessary expense the cost of the merger must be capitalized

2a : to compute the present value of (an income extended over a period of time) — compare amortize

b : to convert (a periodic payment) into an equivalent capital sum capitalized annuities

3 : to supply capital for had capitalized the business with her own savings

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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