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Capital vs. Capitol—What’s the Difference?

Updated on September 30, 2022Grammar
Capital vs. Capitol image

​​Capital can be a noun or an adjective. Capital can refer to uppercase letters, accumulated wealth, or the city that serves as the seat of a country’s or state’s government.

  • A capitol is a building in which the legislative body of government meets.
  • In the United States, the Capitol is a building in Washington in which the US Congress meets.
  • Capitol Hill is a metonym for the US Congress, but also a neighborhood in Washington DC.

With only one letter setting them apart from each other, capital and capitol are two easily confused words. The fact that both are often used when talking about politics or the government doesn’t help, either. 

Definition of capital

As an adjective, capital can describe uppercase letters, punishments that involve execution, something that relates to wealth, or something that is most serious, important, or influential:

The word “January” is always written with a capital J.

Mary was always against capital punishment.

We saw an increase in capital gains in the last quarter.

Peter’s capital offense was his unwillingness to say he’s sorry.

Some people think that The Old Man and the Sea is not Hemingway’s capital work.

As a noun, capital can refer to an amount of accumulated wealth, an uppercase letter, or a city that serves as the seat of a country’s or state’s government:

Once you’ve accumulated enough capital, you can think about investing it in start-up businesses.

When you write in all capitals it will seem like you’re shouting.

Paris is the capital of France.

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Definition of capitol

A capitol is a building in which a legislature operates. In the United States, the Capitol is a building in Washington DC where the United States Congress meets. Some countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Colombia also have capitols; other countries, like Norway, Canada, and Kenya, call their legislative buildings parliaments:

In the United States, laws are passed in the Capitol; in the UK, they are passed in the Palace of Westminster; in Australia, they are passed in the Parliament House.

Capital and capitol examples

But it frees up capital and adds 40 to 50 basis points to a key measure of Deutsche Bank’s financial health, its common equity Tier 1 capital ratio.
The Wall Street Journal

The thick smog that covers India’s capital of New Delhi has been identified as the worst the city has seen in 17 years.
The Weather Network

The letter, in which Mr Carney described himself as “Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant”, was branded at the top with a red-inked “Seen by the Queen” stamp in capital letters to show the sovereign had read the correspondence.
The Daily Telegraph

Nicolli had a big job—handling a big tree that will adorn the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn for the Christmas season.

The capitol’s second floor houses a grand social hall where wakes of provincial government officials, grand balls, parties, concerts and meetings are held.
The Inquirer

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