ca·​pit·​u·​late | \ kə-ˈpi-chə-ˌlāt How to pronounce capitulate (audio) \
capitulated; capitulating

Definition of capitulate

intransitive verb

1a : to surrender often after negotiation of terms The enemy was forced to capitulate unconditionally.
b : to cease resisting : acquiesce The company capitulated to the labor union to avoid a strike.
2 archaic : parley, negotiate

Synonyms & Antonyms for capitulate



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Choose the Right Synonym for capitulate

yield, submit, capitulate, succumb, relent, defer mean to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist. yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty. yields too easily in any argument submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another. a repentant sinner vowing to submit to the will of God capitulate stresses the fact of ending all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms (as with an adversary) or hopelessness in the face of an irresistible opposing force. officials capitulated to the protesters' demands succumb implies weakness and helplessness to the one that gives way or an overwhelming power to the opposing force. a stage actor succumbing to the lure of Hollywood relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand. finally relented and let the children stay up late defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another. I defer to your expertise in these matters

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Capitulate and its synonyms yield, submit, and succumb all mean to give way to someone or something, but have a few slight differences in emphasis. Yield may apply to any sort or degree of bowing to force, debate, or pleading ("yields too easily in any argument"). Submit suggests surrender, after resistance, to the will or control of another ("the soldiers submitted to their captors"). Succumb imputes weakness and helplessness to the person giving in, or an overwhelming power to the opposition ("succumbing to temptation"). Capitulate stresses the termination of all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms, as with an adversary, or hopelessness before an irresistible opposing force ("team owners capitulated to the demands of the players' union").

Examples of capitulate in a Sentence

The country still refuses to capitulate despite its weakening army and dwindling resources. The teacher refused to capitulate: no calculators were to be used during the exam.
Recent Examples on the Web Or Russia could try to shut down Ukraine’s banking system, or parts of the power grid, to increase pressure on the civilian population to capitulate. New York Times, 7 Mar. 2022 If the government in Kyiv falls, the country would likely capitulate. Vikram Mittal, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2022 It’s the bar’s weekly open-mic comedy night, the first since the mask mandate ended, and for two hours local comedians get five minutes and a microphone to capture the crowd’s enthusiasm or capitulate to its disdain. Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2022 Clark said the aim of the Russian military in Grozny was not just to force Chechen separatists to capitulate but to destroy the city itself as a way to break their will. Paul Sonne And Ellen Nakashima, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Mar. 2022 And yet, Hawley is asking Biden to capitulate to Putin. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 2 Feb. 2022 But history shows that the country does not capitulate easily, and resilience is an important part of its national identity. New York Times, 29 Jan. 2022 This doesn't mean the West should capitulate to all of Russia's demands. Damon Linker, The Week, 19 Jan. 2022 Rather than capitulate to the popular conservatism of the time when the photoshoot was exposed in the press, Marilyn stood by her decision. Foren Clark, CNN, 16 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capitulate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of capitulate

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for capitulate

Medieval Latin capitulatus, past participle of capitulare to distinguish by heads or chapters, from Late Latin capitulum — see capitulary

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The first known use of capitulate was in 1596

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Last Updated

5 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Capitulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on capitulate

Nglish: Translation of capitulate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of capitulate for Arabic Speakers


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