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Capital vs. Capitol (What’s the Difference?)

Capital is the correct word for capital city. Capitol refers to a building or buildings occupied by the state legislature; e.g., the Capitol building in Washington D.C.

Are you visiting the capital or capitol? These words (and homophones) sound the same and are a single letter off. Still, they’re not the same, so make sure to use them correctly, (in writing).

Capital vs. capitol

Examples with capitalExamples with capitol
Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States.The state’s capitol building has a rich history and is considered an historic landmark.

Capital (with an “a”) is the much more common word between the two, and it’s probably the spelling you’re looking for.

  • As a noun, capital can mean financial assets; (e.g., wealth, property or money), the most important city or town in a country where the government is; (e.g., Stockholm is the capital city of Sweden), or uppercase letters; e.g., “A”, “B”.

  • As an adjective, capital describes an offence or crime as liable to the death penalty; i.e., “capital punishment“. It can also mean an exclamation similar to “splendid” or “wonderful!” (the latter use is somewhat dated).

Capitol is a noun that refers to the building (or buildings) where politicians meet to work on new laws and policies.

Note that when “capitol” is in capital letters, as in the Capitol building or Capitol Hill, it’s used as a proper noun to mention a specific building or place; i.e., the building where the US Congress meets in Washington DC to discuss new laws.

Sentences with “capital” as a noun

Examples with “capital” (noun) as in, the city or town
of a country or region where the government is.
Cairo is the capital city of Egypt.

Los Angeles is the movie capital of the world.
Examples with “capital” as in Uppercase letters
(e.g., A, B, C).
Please write using capital letters.
Examples with “capital” meaning financial assets.
Proper allocation of capital is crucial for financial stability.

The company decided to raise capital by issuing new shares.

Sentence examples with the word “capitol”

Examples with “capitol”/ “Capitol
Protesters gathered outside the state capitol to voice their concerns about government policies.

Security measures have been heightened around the capitol in response to recent threats.
[proper noun] The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., is an iconic symbol of American democracy.

Phrases with “capital”

  • capital punishment
  • capital offence
  • capital gain
  • capital goods
  • social capital
  • venture capital

Synonyms of “capital”

  • centre
  • base
  • nucleus
  • locus
  • epicentre
  • axis
  • hub
  • focus
  • core
  • mecca
  • heart
  • seat
  • main
  • primary

Synonyms of “capitol”

  • statehouse
  • senate
  • chamber

Origin of the word “capitol”

We see the word capitol used with a capital letter in the term Capitol Hill, which is a famous building that houses the seat of the U.S. government in Washington D.C., (the one with the rounded dome on top). Interestingly, Capitol Hill gets its name from the Latin word, Capitolium, which was the name of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome.

Origin of “capital”

Early 13c., “of or pertaining to the head,” from Old French capital, from Latin capitalis “of the head,” hence “capital, chief, first,” from caput (genitive capitis) “head”.

Other commonly confused words


  1. Venture capital, Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, accessed on Feb 23, 2024.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of capital.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 9 September, 2023.
  3. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of Capitol.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 9 September, 2023.

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