capitol

noun
cap·​i·​tol | \ ˈka-pə-tᵊl, 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

Thousands of teachers in Colorado have joined the grassroots movement, holding rallies at the state capitol in recent weeks to demand a pay raise and more funding. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Most Republicans and Democrats agree that American teachers need a raise," 24 Apr. 2018 From a quaint shoreline community to the rural northeast corner of the state, and the scenic rail trail to the capitol city's lesser-known historic district, races include: O'Niantic 5K, Niantic, March 17; and O'Hartford 5K, Hartford, March 18. Courant Community, "Community News For The Putnam Edition," 13 Mar. 2018 Every day, legislators in any state capitol and Washington are making decisions that are going to impact our communities for decades to come. Iman Hariri-kia, Teen Vogue, "Meet Will Haskell, the 22-Year-Old Who Beat a Republican Who Had Been in Office as Long as He’s Been Alive," 14 Nov. 2018 Our nation's capitol really is full of psychopaths - and your state might be as well, according to a new working study from Southern Methodist University. Scott Berson, miamiherald, "D.C. is full of psychopaths, new study says. See where your state falls on the list," 19 June 2018 Security experts say state capitols could be appealing targets, and that screening visitors is a must. Alan Blinder, New York Times, "Metal Detectors the Norm at Schools and Ballparks. State Capitols? Not So Much," 14 Apr. 2018 The walkout across the Appalachian state left more than 277,000 students idle as their teachers flooded the state capitol in Charleston to protest. Author: Gina Cherelus, Ian Simpson, Anchorage Daily News, "West Virginia teachers’ 9-day strike ends with 5 percent pay raise," 6 Mar. 2018 An earlier mural painted by Kansas City, Kan., muralist Michael Young hangs at the state capitol. Mará Rose Williams, kansascity, "Protesting Trump, artist adds immigrant child to Kansas mural. It lasts only 3 days," 25 June 2018 But 10 years later the North Carolina state capitol goes up in flames; the roof caves in, and Canova’s only American commission crumbles to pieces. Jason Farago, New York Times, "A George Washington Monument, Rediscovered in Fragile Plaster," 27 June 2018

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

14 Jan 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 Capitol : the building in which the U.S. Congress meets in Washington, D.C.

capitol

noun
cap·​i·​tol | \ ˈka-pə-tᵊl, 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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