cap·​i·​tal·​ize | \ ˈka-pə-tə-ˌlīz How to pronounce capitalize (audio) , ˈkap-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



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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 But Cal couldn’t capitalize on its ensuing possession, and after Onyenwere’s basket, the Bears’ chances were hurt when a jump ball went UCLA’s way with 17.6 seconds left., "Cal women fall to UCLA in overtime," 9 Feb. 2020 Desaine Mhango led Male with six points, but the team shot just 20.4 percent from the field and couldn't capitalize on Assumption's 24 turnovers. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "Assumption basketball uses tough defense to beat Male, advance to next round of the LIT," 29 Jan. 2020 The Harbormen were able to use that physicality to their advantage, and head coach Tony Messina liked the way his team blocked out the distractions and capitalized on its chances. Trevor Hass,, "Hingham boys’ hockey cashes in against Duxbury," 27 Jan. 2020 If the past few Januarys have been sleepy, why not capitalize on a slow time? Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Five Burning Questions: Billboard Staffers Discuss Selena Gomez's Narrow No. 1 Debut For 'Rare' Album," 23 Jan. 2020 The fashion industry has failed Black people time and time again, routinely appropriating and capitalizing off of Black culture, including the use of traditionally black hairstyles on non-Black models. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Comme des Garçons Called Out for Cultural Appropriation During Paris Fashion Week Show," 17 Jan. 2020 The question is whether the receivers can capitalize on their prodigious talent and become a unit that is consistently productive against every team on the schedule. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan football's wide receivers might fare better this fall in Gattis' scheme," 15 Jan. 2020 In the absence of her official account, copycats and fakes have also sprung up to try and capitalize on Ward’s newfound notoriety. Brianna Provenzano,, "Meet The Naked Philanthropist Selling Nude Photos To Raise Money For Australia," 7 Jan. 2020 Homegrown violent extremists could also capitalize on the heightened tensions to launch individual attacks, DHS warned. Leada Gore |, al, "Department of Homeland Security issues new terrorism threat bulletin," 6 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for capitalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of capitalize was in 1764

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Statistics for capitalize

Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Capitalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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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


How to pronounce capitalize (audio)

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 How to pronounce capitalize (audio) \
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 How to pronounce capitalize (audio) \
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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