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


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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 In late 2007, Sonny Perdue, who was the governor of Georgia at the time and later served as the Secretary of Agriculture for the Trump administration, led a prayer service for rain on the steps of the state capitol in Atlanta. Travis Caldwell And Andy Rose, CNN, 4 June 2021 Armed anti-lockdown protesters in Michigan forced the shutdown of the state capitol in Lansing in May, leading state lawmakers there to cancel a legislative session. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 30 Jan. 2021 Unfortunately, the plates with images of the various capitol buildings are a bit rarer, more desirable, and yes, more monetarily valuable. Helaine Fendelman And Joe Rosson, Star Tribune, 23 Feb. 2021 In addition to blocking roads, Black Lives Matter demonstrators have taken over parks and painted slogans on streets and structures, while right-wing groups have brandished firearms and stormed capitol buildings. Sean Murphy,, 20 Feb. 2021 Von Ehlinger allegedly made two other women who work at the state capitol uncomfortable by pursuing them romantically, according to records released by the state House. Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, this past weekend several hundred people protested the measure at the state capitol. Kris Maher, WSJ, 6 Apr. 2021 Social media posts connected to the group indicated their intention to prevent the Freedom Rally caravan from meeting at the state capitol. Lucas Manfredi, Fox News, 29 Mar. 2021 As the Home Demand Index for Washington's market rose 16 percent in February 2021, moving to the country's capitol is easier said than done. Kelsey Mulvey, Good Housekeeping, 31 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for capitol

Time Traveler

The first known use of capitol was in 1679

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Statistics for capitol

Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Capitol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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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.


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

More from Merriam-Webster on capitol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for capitol

Nglish: Translation of capitol for Spanish Speakers


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