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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for capitulate


blink, bow, budge, concede, give in, knuckle under, quit, relent, submit, succumb, surrender, yield



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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

Did You Know?

Capitulate and its synonyms "yield," "submit," and "succumb" all mean to give way to someone or something, with 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 ("a sinner submitting to the will of God"). "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 ("officials capitulated to the demands").

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

But Apple isn't ready to capitulate to Qualcomm's demands. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Apple says iOS update will avoid Qualcomm patents, China iPhone ban," 14 Dec. 2018 After initially standing in solidarity with their players when Trump reignited the controversy around an issue that had moved to the backburner, the owners came to capitulate to the power of the presidential bully pulpit. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump wins a battle in the culture war as NFL owners cave on national anthem protests," 24 May 2018 Conversely, the castellan (the commander of the castle and the king's loyal man) might capitulate if certain promises of safety, payment, and bounty were provided. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "How to Storm a Castle," 11 Apr. 2019 Here’s the story of how McCain, one of the most vocal opponents of torture, capitulated for political gain, right when his voice was needed the most — and why his recent attempt to atone for his sins is too little, too late. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Sen. John McCain’s complicated moral legacy on torture," 26 Aug. 2018 But Canadian negotiators, who have a reputation for intransigence dating back to the original trade deal with the U.S. in 1988, didn’t capitulate. Greg Ip, WSJ, "New Nafta Shows Limits of ‘America First’," 3 Oct. 2018 Console players everywhere are rejoicing with the news that after months of bullish denials, Sony capitulated and will soon allow PS4 players to link up with people on Xbox, Switch, and mobile platforms — at least for select third-party games. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Fortnite cross-play on PS4 ushers in a new era of the console wars," 26 Sep. 2018 Afterward, Trump claimed that NATO allies had capitulated to him and agreed to spend more on defense — a claim disputed by, among others, French President Emmanuel Macron. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The Trump-Putin meeting reveals how Trump is killing American power.," 16 July 2018 In total, Trump has threatened tariffs on up to $450 billion of Chinese products if Beijing refuses to capitulate. New York Times,, "Trade war with China looms as midnight tariff deadline approaches," 6 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for capitulate

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for capitulate

The first known use of capitulate was in 1596

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More Definitions for capitulate



English Language Learners Definition of capitulate

: to stop fighting an enemy or opponent : to admit that an enemy or opponent has won
: to stop trying to fight or resist something : to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing

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