capitol

noun
cap·​i·​tol | \ ˈka-pə-tᵊl How to pronounce capitol (audio) , ˈkap-tᵊl\

Definition of capitol

1a : a building in which a state legislative body meets the dome of the state capitol
b : a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out
2 capitalized : the building in which the U.S. Congress meets at Washington

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Synonyms for capitol

Synonyms

statehouse

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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 in a Sentence

the dome of the state capitol the legislators were called to the capitol for an emergency session

Recent Examples on the Web

At the same time, business growth is turning the pot industry into a force in the lobbies of Washington and of state capitols. The Economist, "The legalisation of recreational cannabis is weeding out teenaged users," 11 July 2019 All 11 Republicans in the Oregon Senate walked out of the capitol last week, after negotiations with Democrats over the climate bill broke down Wednesday night. Ian Lovett, WSJ, "Oregon Republicans Agree to Come Out of Hiding," 28 June 2019 Loggers, truckers and other opponents of a cap-and-trade bill in the Oregon legislature rallied on the steps of the state capitol in Salem Thursday as the deadline for its potential passage neared. Fox News, "Oregon truckers, blue collar workers rally against cap and trade bill GOP senators fled state to stop," 27 June 2019 Legislation is pending in several state capitols to eliminate their version of the religious exemption. Fox News, "New York ends religious exemption to vaccine mandates," 14 June 2019 Legislation is pending in several state capitols to eliminate their version of the religious exemption. NBC News, "New York eliminates religious exemption to vaccine requirements," 13 June 2019 Legislation is pending in several state capitols to eliminate their version of the religious exemption. David Klepper, Time, "New York Ends Religious Exemption to Vaccine Requirements After Worst Outbreak in Decades," 13 June 2019 Here, oral arguments for one of those suits takes place in Wisconsin’s state capitol. Jennifer Calfas, WSJ, "Setback in Wisconsin Forces Democrats to Study Next Move," 13 June 2019 If there is a growing demand for electric stations, like the corporatists at the capitol say, the same type of investors will take the risk and build them, without stealing the money of poor people to do it. Jon Caldara, The Denver Post, "Caldara: In Colorado you’re still paying for rich folks to buy a luxury second car," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capitol.' 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 capitol

1679, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for capitol

Latin Capitolium, temple of Jupiter at Rome on the Capitoline hill

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Statistics for capitol

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for capitol

The first known use of capitol was in 1679

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More Definitions for capitol

capitol

noun

English Language Learners Definition of capitol

: the building in which the people who make the laws of a U.S. state meet
: the building in which the U.S. Congress meets in Washington, D.C.

capitol

noun
cap·​i·​tol | \ ˈka-pə-tᵊl How to pronounce capitol (audio) , ˈkap-tᵊl\

Kids Definition of capitol

1 : the building in which a state legislature meets
2 capitalized : the building in Washington, D.C., in which the United States Congress meets

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More from Merriam-Webster on capitol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for capitol

Spanish Central: Translation of capitol

Nglish: Translation of capitol for Spanish Speakers

Comments on capitol

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