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

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 Six of the band members arrived in the nation's capitol on Sunday, save for Jungkook who arrived the day prior. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, 31 May 2022 Meanwhile, in the nation's capitol, Senate Democrats have been trying to pass voting rights legislation at the top of the year. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, 6 Jan. 2022 Lawmakers stayed in the nation's capitol for several weeks and urged Senators to pass federal voting rights legislation. Adam Brewster, CBS News, 31 Aug. 2021 But, in his address at the capitol, DeSantis focussed on the fact that Florida’s public schools had stayed open during the pandemic, protecting some 2.7 million students from the educational damage brought on by closings elsewhere. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 20 June 2022 Thursday’s press briefing was part of a weeklong mobilizing effort by HUSKY 4 Immigrants activists that began with a rally at the capitol and continued with events centered on affected children and parents. Alex Putterman, Hartford Courant, 14 Apr. 2022 In May, an American flag and a World Games flag started a 3,100-mile journey from the nation’s capitol to Birmingham, signaling a countdown to the World Games opening ceremonies. al, 8 July 2022 Her challenger, Davis, voted to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 capitol attack. Miles Cohen, ABC News, 25 June 2022 Electors in Georgia and Wisconsin did meet at their state’s capitol. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, 23 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near capitol



Capitol Hill

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Statistics for capitol

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Capitol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for capitol


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

Nglish: Translation of capitol for Spanish Speakers


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