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

Candy companies started launching advertising campaigns to capitalize on the ritual. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "18 Fascinating Things You Didn't Know About Halloween," 7 July 2018 Among the many well-wishers and supporters, Twitter critics accused Daniels of capitalizing on her publicity to make money. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Stormy Daniels' new fragrance, Truth, getting mixed reaction on social media," 6 June 2018 Kim Jong Un has done an excellent job of capitalizing on and exacerbating discord in the U.S.-South Korea alliance, trying to separate the allies. Mira Rapp-hooper, Washington Post, "Five reasons the Olympics haven't solved the North Korea problem," 22 Feb. 2018 Fannie, Freddie, and any rivals would be overseen by a government entity with power to approve guarantors, change regulations, and ensure market participants are adequately capitalized, the report said. Gregory Mott,, "Fannie-Freddie rise as White House proposes privatization," 22 June 2018 Privacy - Terms Senior Fed officials speaking to reporters on a conference call Thursday said the results show the firms continue to be strongly capitalized. Deon Roberts, charlotteobserver, "The Fed examined how local banks would fare in another downturn. Here's what it found," 21 June 2018 Gilbert insists that Quicken is well capitalized and less risky than many banks. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "How Dan Gilbert has made Quicken Loans thrive in mortgage industry," 31 May 2018 He's capitalized on opportunities while rolling to the basket after setting screens for teammates, who draw more attention. Chris Fedor,, "Ante Zizic has made Cleveland Cavaliers' decision tough when Tristan Thompson returns," 19 Mar. 2018 The Bears would love if Isaiah Irving capitalized on the lack of depth and put together a breakout second season. Colleen Kane,, "Bears relying on several comeback stories from their outside linebackers," 12 July 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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Phrases Related to capitalize

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Statistics for capitalize

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on capitalize

What made you want to look up capitalize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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