Dictionary.com

Capital vs. Capitol

Capitalvs.Capitol

Capital and capitol are both commonly used in political contexts and are separated by just one letter, making them frustratingly easy to confuse. When it comes to these two terms, it’s important to note that one has a number of meanings while the other refers to a certain type of building.

Capital has many definitions. It can mean “the wealth owned or employed in business by an individual, firm, corporation, etc.”; it can mean “principal; highly important,” as in Safety was their capital concern; and it can mean “uppercase letter.” But the capital that gives most people trouble is this one: “the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country or state,” as in The capital of California is Sacramento or The capital of the United States is Washington, DC.

Capitol also has to do with government, but it is more specific: capitol is defined as “a building occupied by a state legislature.” When the word Capitol is capitalized, it refers to the United States Capitol, a building in Washington, DC, that hosts Congress, the legislative branch of the US federal government.

Both capital and capitol are derived from the Latin root caput, meaning “head.” Capital evolved from the words capitālis, “of the head,” and capitāle, “wealth.” Capitol comes from Capitōlium, the name of a temple (dedicated to Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Zeus) that once sat on the smallest of Rome’s seven hills, Capitoline Hill.

Because capital and capitol are so close in spelling, it can be challenging to remember which word denotes what. As a mnemonic trick, consider the importance of the letter “o” in capitol. This “o” stands for “only one” definition, while the “a” in capital stands for “all the rest.” If that doesn’t work, try associating the “o” with the spherical dome of the US Capitol building.

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146 Comments

  1. still don't get it -  October 24, 2016 - 2:45 pm

    still don’t get it

    Reply
    • bryce -  November 17, 2016 - 11:26 am

      capitol: leading government building
      capital: head city. washington, dc for example.

      Reply
    • Furbola -  November 29, 2016 - 10:06 am

      It’s a capitaol letter.

      Reply
  2. Damon -  June 10, 2016 - 6:14 pm

    caput…..
    Tupac….
    Hhmmmmm……

    Reply
  3. John Cogan -  May 25, 2016 - 8:28 am

    I liked reading that the root word of both capital & capitol is the Latin caput. That made me look up the word kaput. It has a different root, from a different language. :-)

    Reply
  4. FROGGY -  May 8, 2016 - 2:35 pm

    FROGGGGGGGGGGGGGY

    Reply
    • Bill -  December 3, 2016 - 7:55 am

      I know, right? FROGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGY!!!!!!!

      Reply
  5. :DD -  May 5, 2016 - 6:46 pm

    lol

    Reply
  6. Oscar -  May 5, 2016 - 12:23 pm

    When I was in fourth grade, my school had a spelling bee. I was in the top 7-ish. I was up and was asked to spell CAPITOL. I answered “Capital,” I was taken out. Quite stupid, eh. Especially for being in a FOURTH GRADE spelling bee. Still salty about it to this day. The winning word was Energy which really irritated me and left me more frustrated.

    Reply
    • Koki -  May 6, 2016 - 11:53 am

      Indeed!

      Reply
    • John Cogan -  May 25, 2016 - 8:21 am

      Capital and capitol are homonyms, and sound exactly the same, with the pronunciation here at Dictionary.com written for both as kap-i-tl… accent on first syllable. So, you spelled it correctly, unless you asked for the definition (or they otherwise gave you the definition) specific to capitol. Maybe the judges should have anticipated and/or conferred on your answer. With so many words to choose from, I would think that a 4th-grade spelling bee would not get into the homophone business, which could be seen as a bit of a trick question in that format. Students can be eliminated with non-homophones. Who wants to be perceived as engaging in possible trickery at this level?

      Reply
    • Bill -  December 3, 2016 - 7:56 am

      I once got out on the word “Failure.” :(

      Reply
  7. jkahsfuhsugi -  April 26, 2016 - 6:27 pm

    noissssss

    Reply
  8. Emmanuel -  April 26, 2016 - 11:49 am

    Am from East Africa . I was taught British English . I didn’t know of capitol

    Reply
  9. DEEZ NUTS -  March 17, 2016 - 8:32 am

    WHAT

    Reply
    • Poopybutt -  March 21, 2016 - 5:43 pm

      I lov pooppy.

      Reply
      • Lolipop -  May 2, 2016 - 5:20 pm

        Do you mean PUPPY?

        Reply
    • Makayla -  March 28, 2016 - 4:59 pm

      Ok

      Reply
    • Kirunda charles -  April 2, 2016 - 12:07 pm

      Hi

      Reply
    • L0l -  April 13, 2016 - 7:13 pm

      Like the name, bruh

      Reply
      • kitten -  April 19, 2016 - 12:36 pm

        nop

        Reply
    • Joaquin -  April 20, 2016 - 11:59 am

      My photos

      Reply
  10. B-ball Girl ;) -  March 16, 2016 - 7:26 am

    Hi

    Reply
  11. Kamukama Albert -  March 14, 2016 - 10:44 pm

    I surely wish to learn word of the day daily

    Reply
  12. Ted Kohane -  September 1, 2015 - 8:20 am

    With so many people confused by certain words in the English language (consider, for example, lay vs. lie), I don’t understand why anyone is confused by capital/capitol. The distinction you have explained should be handled easily by anyone capable of seeing the difference in spelling.

    Let’s save our energy for things like compose/comprise and so much more!

    Reply
    • martha -  September 9, 2015 - 3:59 am

      I really like to learn new word per day

      Reply
      • pikachu -  March 15, 2016 - 8:33 am

        im hip

        Reply
      • Willie Wright -  March 16, 2016 - 9:07 am

        just looking too up my vocabulary

        Reply
      • Horses girl -  March 28, 2016 - 4:59 pm

        I love words

        Reply
    • hALEA -  March 15, 2016 - 4:58 pm

      well that’s kinda rude to the people who want to learn… some/most people don’t know the difference!

      Reply
    • Mary Auenson -  March 29, 2016 - 8:32 am

      Lay/lie is easy.

      Animals and inanimate objects lay.

      People lie. People always lie.

      “Let your mother lie down for a while.”

      “Honey, the little fawn-colored greyhound laid on her bed for 22 hours a day.”

      Reply
      • Bev -  July 11, 2016 - 9:36 am

        The problem arises in that the past tense of “lie” is “lay.” This confuses many.

        Reply
      • Bev -  July 11, 2016 - 9:44 am

        “Lay” needs an object: “Lie” does not.

        “Laid,” being the past tense of “lay,” needs an object.

        The problem arises in that the past tense of “lie” is “lay.” This confuses many.

        verb present tense past tense past participle present participle
        lay lay laid laid laying
        lie lie lay lain lying

        Reply
  13. Rance -  September 1, 2015 - 7:10 am

    Derp Derp.

    Reply
    • pikachu -  March 15, 2016 - 8:33 am

      im hip
      unlike uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

      Reply
      • Ash -  April 26, 2016 - 3:52 pm

        Get off the computer, Pikachu!

        Reply
  14. someoneeeee -  August 31, 2015 - 6:54 pm

    Its still confusing

    Reply
    • me -  September 1, 2015 - 2:10 pm

      capital is the goverment of the state capitol is something thats special to the state or country

      Reply
    • sherry -  September 2, 2015 - 4:28 am

      only the spelling, means the same

      Reply
    • katie -  September 2, 2015 - 6:57 am

      its all so confusing and i dont understand

      Reply
    • Poopybutt -  March 21, 2016 - 5:42 pm

      My scooll teechez me howe too spel somme wordz. It teechez me lotz. Tis toookk me fiftenn mintuese to righht.

      Reply
      • Getlosthahhahahalozer -  March 21, 2016 - 5:45 pm

        Ha ha ha. ROTFL LOL. I alwazy spelle wright. He he. :)

        Reply
  15. Howard -  August 29, 2015 - 3:56 am

    I have always wondered “who makes these rules?” Where does the authority to correct anyone’s language come from? Isn’t it merely a convention between writers and publishers? Since language, at least English, is organic in nature and changes from within, the rule makers,sooner or later, kicking and screaming, grudgingly accept new definitions and uses. When the “incorrect” uses of CAPITOL outweigh the “correct” ones, even Dictionary.com will be forced to concede. Few people have need of a prescriptive dictionary. If they exist I have never seen one. Indeed, following one would be confusing for someone in the real world. People consult dictionaries to find out what a speaker meant and if the dominant use conflicts with the definition? Unless technology becomes sophisticated enough to spell check between the two uses. (It may as we move increasingly away from oral discourse.) I bet if you check this out in 100 years you will find the less popular word classified as “archaic.”

    Reply
    • McGehee -  August 31, 2015 - 10:06 am

      Proponents of normalizing lazy usage have had centuries to eliminate the distinction between capital and capitol. Being organic is not the same as “anything goes.”

      Reply
    • Lucas -  June 4, 2016 - 11:51 am

      The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Style Guide are examples of prescriptive “dictionaries”; they explain how certain words ought to be used. While they aren’t very helpful for colloquial speech, as you point out, they do help to create consistent, accurate language in professional settings, where it’s more costly to explain away a misunderstanding. They tend to rely on historic usage and root words. This means that they do change over time, but it helps them to avoid language fads (think “bae”).

      Descriptive dictionaries, like dictionary.com and the Oxford Dictionary, aim to present the language as it is commonly used (though your question about who makes up the rules still applies. How common is common enough?). They are quicker to adapt, which makes them a great deal more useful to the layman, but more likely to incorporate content that would be out of place in professional or academic writing. Just because you _can_ use a word, doesn’t mean you _should_.

      That said, “capitol” is a common spelling: Look no further than the “Capitol Hill” neighborhood in many major cities. Being enshrined in place-names, it’s unlikely to go away any time soon.

      Reply
  16. Michelle -  August 27, 2015 - 4:19 pm

    one is like Nashville is to Tennessee and the other is a name of bank

    Reply
  17. Katniss Everdeen -  August 26, 2015 - 3:36 am

    No this whole definition is wrong. CapitOl with an O is the capital of Panem where they hold the Hunger Games and tried to kill me TWICE!!!!!!!!

    -The Girl On Fire

    Reply
    • Effie Trinket -  August 26, 2015 - 5:05 pm

      Happy Hunger Games! and my the odds be ever in your favor.

      Reply
    • Captain America(duh) -  August 27, 2015 - 2:28 am

      I know you are trying to be funny, but posing as fictional characters isn’t really cool.

      -A.H.C.

      Reply
    • Gale Hawthorne -  August 27, 2015 - 1:13 pm

      I know Katniss why do they do this

      Reply
    • Peeta Mellark -  August 27, 2015 - 1:14 pm

      I hate the capitol because of the reason she said

      Reply
      • Uzumaki Naruto -  September 1, 2015 - 2:09 am

        written as of book 71 being released

        Reply
      • President Snow -  March 15, 2016 - 9:28 am

        Don’t worry. If Hollywood makes another one I’ll come back and try to kill you again.

        Reply
      • Haymitch Abernathy -  March 15, 2016 - 5:02 pm

        Just ignore them, guys, they’re from the past! They don’t know anything! WHERE’S MY WHISKEY?!

        Reply
    • Nai Ho -  August 27, 2015 - 9:02 pm

      This is true FICTION and not FACT and ahould be disregarded as a definition.

      Reply
    • Mikhail Trikovich -  August 28, 2015 - 5:30 am

      You do mean thrice right?

      Reply
    • Prim -  August 28, 2015 - 12:19 pm

      no

      Reply
      • Rosa Parks -  March 15, 2016 - 9:29 am

        Hey!!! That’s my line!!!!

        Reply
      • President Coin -  March 15, 2016 - 9:36 am

        I killed you. You don’t get to say no anymore.

        Reply
    • bro -  August 29, 2015 - 8:31 am

      bro, really? I doubt you are really The Girl On Fire. one less person fooled.

      Reply
      • Katniss Everdeen -  October 28, 2015 - 1:57 am

        God, i was just trying to be funny, i am a freakin FANGIRL!!!!!!

        follow me on insta _dauntless_rebels

        Reply
        • CapitolLover -  March 15, 2016 - 9:37 am

          Followed you. I think…

          Reply
    • Cato -  August 30, 2015 - 4:59 am

      And I died in it. Damn.

      Reply
      • Rue -  March 15, 2016 - 9:34 am

        Don’t worry. I did too, because stupid Katniss couldn’t save me.

        Reply
    • L.D. -  August 30, 2015 - 9:11 am

      Capital (greenbacks with dead presidents on the front) is what it takes to build a Capitol, simple as that. If you have a capital idea or do you have a capitol idea? Jus wunderin’.

      Reply
      • semantics -  July 6, 2016 - 10:28 am

        Benjamin Franklin was not a president. Neither was Alexander Hamilton. Why waste capital at the capital when there are already capital ideas debated at the capitol.

        Reply
    • gK -  August 30, 2015 - 2:34 pm

      that was it enough to make sense.

      Reply
    • you annoy me -  August 30, 2015 - 9:38 pm

      Be serious or leave this place at once.

      Reply
    • Coriolanus Snow -  October 12, 2015 - 11:21 am

      We tried to kill you way more times than twice, Mockingjay. Learn how to count.

      Reply
      • Katniss Everdeen -  October 28, 2015 - 2:00 am

        Shuck you, I was counting how many times YOU tried to kill me in THE HUNGER GAMES!!! not in the rebellion!!!!!

        Also Mockingjay part 2 is coming out

        Follow my fan account on insta _dauntess_rebels

        Reply
        • Effie Trinket -  November 29, 2015 - 4:41 pm

          So now we’re getting int the maze runner. Good that.

          Reply
        • Effie Trinket -  November 29, 2015 - 4:42 pm

          President Coin dies and snow coughs up blood.

          Reply
          • President Snow -  March 15, 2016 - 9:32 am

            I cough up blood. So what? It’s not like I had to kill to get where I am, or anything- unlike you Katniss. Come now, we promised to lie to eachother.

    • Rue -  March 15, 2016 - 5:05 pm

      You go, Katniss! Show the capitol what you’re made of!!!

      Reply
      • Minho -  July 8, 2016 - 2:43 am

        You haven’t survived a night in the Maze with the Grievers, shank.

        Reply
  18. Suresh Dave -  August 25, 2015 - 10:57 am

    English is almost an international language and certainly has been multi-country language. The word “capital” refers to capital city all over the english speaking world. The word Capitol is, on the contrary, not used internationally in the American sense (reperesenting a building housing local or national legislators.) Indian Parliament, a majestic building, has never been referred to as capitol, even in the wake of recent widespread cultural Americanization. In fact, the word Capitol should only mean “a set of 51 buildings”

    Reply
    • sxvage -  August 26, 2015 - 3:54 pm

      Tru

      Reply
    • Alba -  August 26, 2015 - 10:09 pm

      Absolutely right. I use this website a lot because the design is so good, but its American-ness (is there such a word???) is detectable in practically every page. Still, until there IS a recognisable, regularised International English, we’re stuck with websites in one English dialect or another. I just wish we had an online British English thesaurus as good in every other respect as this American English one.

      Reply
  19. Shams -  August 24, 2015 - 5:33 am

    Capitol is the high building and capital is the capital city for America for example

    Reply
    • kkk -  August 24, 2015 - 4:47 pm

      i know them all

      Reply
    • alalalla -  August 25, 2015 - 3:23 am

      ohh thank youll

      Reply
  20. Mystic -  August 22, 2015 - 8:12 pm

    I wish to learn the English language, although I am a mature , university graduate and can communicate reasonably well in the English language, but I still feel inadequate in it.

    How and where can one improve one’s skill ?

    I tend to learn better audio visually.

    Any suggestions, recommendations will be sincerely welcomed and appreciated.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • peter mayom bol -  August 24, 2015 - 10:22 pm

      Thank you to hear your history about you don’t have confident for yourself when you speak english you not well like you means that english second language for you please don’t worry despite you know your first language and your writing good english what do you want again myself I have same problem but will be worry because I came mature enough I prayer for to finish my degree that is will find myself I did something

      Reply
    • Double Negative -  August 25, 2015 - 12:31 pm

      Your written skills are pretty good. English is very hard to learn, so have confidence in yourself for making it this far! There are people who only speak English and yet have no idea how to do so properly. Unfortunately, this becoming more common as people continue to drink fluoridated water, eat MSG, watch reality TV and text.

      Maybe, if you look up words, search for definitions along with examples used in sentences. That may help you put things in the correct form.

      Keep up the good work!

      Reply
    • Mary -  August 26, 2015 - 2:28 am

      Watch tv sitcoms with the closed captioning on. This will help you with pronunciation and spelling.

      Reply
    • Craig -  August 27, 2015 - 10:35 pm

      I recommend you check out the textbooks listed with university English teaching courses, for primary and secondary level school teachers.

      Also check out the local library for any audio video resources they may have.

      Reply
    • Lena Shirley -  August 29, 2015 - 8:36 am

      Just pay attention, suggest go visit our court rooms. Lighten up, you are well into understanding people! *: )

      Reply
    • Candy -  April 12, 2016 - 2:53 pm

      Read. Read. Then read some more.

      Reply
  21. HARISH RAO -  August 22, 2015 - 6:17 am

    IT IS VERY USEFUL. PLEASE ALSO GIVE SOME EXAMPLES TO CORRECT USAGE OF THE TWO WORDS.

    Reply
  22. M -  August 21, 2015 - 10:37 am

    It should be mentioned that nobody outside of the USA has ever heard of “Capitol”. lol

    Reply
  23. nida.baybay@yahoo.com.ph -  August 11, 2015 - 6:15 pm

    both words are not the same in meaning, but you can really distinguish what is the difference of using it correctly.

    Reply
  24. David -  August 7, 2015 - 1:15 pm

    When I was in the lower grades, the teacher explained that the capitOl has a dOme on it.

    Reply
    • Valter -  August 7, 2015 - 2:38 pm

      That´s a very easy way to remember!

      Reply
      • shyla -  August 19, 2015 - 11:21 pm

        Yup..

        Reply
    • Pete -  August 19, 2015 - 4:10 pm

      Another great teacher has made his/her impact felt.

      Reply
    • Chris -  August 20, 2015 - 12:35 am

      Love it!

      Reply
    • Vincent -  August 20, 2015 - 9:48 pm

      while cApital has Alligators in it

      Reply
    • Edwin -  August 25, 2015 - 6:16 am

      That’s really helpful, thanks dude.

      Reply
  25. Cristina -  August 7, 2015 - 5:40 am

    As I belong to a Romance language speaking nation I never thought anyone could possibly mix up capitol and capital! Now I see this can happen, so your explanation is quite useful!

    Reply
  26. liv_rocks -  August 7, 2015 - 1:04 am

    xxxtra confusing thanks 2 the hunger games

    Reply
    • Lady Mystery -  August 9, 2015 - 9:00 pm

      totally agree

      Reply
      • DNa_HuNter -  August 16, 2015 - 10:59 pm

        agreed

        Reply
    • Em -  August 10, 2015 - 9:13 pm

      So true!

      Reply
    • danica -  August 23, 2015 - 1:56 am

      LOL @liv_rocks… so true!!! first thing i thought of!

      Reply
      • hazel -  August 24, 2015 - 10:20 am

        Ikr!!

        Reply
  27. Ram Krishan Bhadala -  August 6, 2015 - 3:20 pm

    Distinction between two words and their room words is very informative and clear to understand.Thanks.

    Reply
  28. Pat -  August 6, 2015 - 2:29 pm

    “Both capital and capitol are derived from …caput,” And sometimes they seem to be heading back that way – to “kaput”.

    Reply
  29. Paul Wahler -  August 6, 2015 - 1:29 pm

    Following the logic of the definition of “capitol” – if you are in Washington, D.C. and you are on the street which is due east of the Capitol you are on East Capitol Street. (usually spelled: E. Capitol Street). Likewise for North Capitol and South Capitol Streets. There is no West Capitol Street, that is the Mall.

    Reply
    • Subhash -  August 10, 2015 - 2:36 pm

      It
      Is always advised to look toward East ,the direction from which sun rises, naturally when move you ahead one has keep his eyes on left and right but not behind and that seem the reason that we do not have west Capitol street.

      Reply
    • John Viands -  August 23, 2015 - 12:28 pm

      Haha – I used to live in Capitol Heights, MD, out E. Capitol Street. I probably misspelled it every time I wrote my address LOL. Now I know better :)
      I’m a true Washingtonian – born at Geo. Washington University Hosp.

      Reply
    • Kay Cee -  August 27, 2015 - 7:38 pm

      And there is “Capitol Hill”.

      Reply
      • hugo -  March 17, 2016 - 8:33 pm

        you are corret

        Reply
  30. Darcie Mihalovic -  August 6, 2015 - 10:31 am

    Capital. Is it in the context of speaking about a building?

    The phrase “Capital idea” refers to “a good idea.”

    Reply
  31. Annie -  August 6, 2015 - 10:26 am

    That kind of reminds me. What is the difference principal and principle?

    Reply
    • Roxanne Coatney -  August 8, 2015 - 1:13 pm

      When I was in school, they taught us that the Principal was our pal. If you can remember that little trick, then you should be alright. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Anonymous -  August 22, 2015 - 10:00 am

        Principle* or if you are actually talking about the Principal of your school XD

        Reply
    • themonk -  August 8, 2015 - 11:32 pm

      Go to the top of the page and put the word/s into the search dictionary section. Great to get the root meaning of words. Do it each time for those I do not know

      Reply
    • Lady Mystery -  August 9, 2015 - 9:02 pm

      A principAl is the school headmaster/mistress. A principLE is more of a moral or set to life

      Reply
    • Anonymous -  August 22, 2015 - 10:02 am

      Principle Means Rule. Principal is a Person, usually the head of a school.

      Reply
      • tai -  April 28, 2016 - 3:28 pm

        principal vs principle… al and le… al is a person, le is a regulation…

        Reply
  32. Marino -  August 6, 2015 - 10:15 am

    Very interesting remark on usage. I enjoyed the mnemonic part!

    Reply
  33. Lee Donovan -  August 6, 2015 - 9:52 am

    I always was told to remember “capitol” thus: Most capitols have a “dOme.”

    Reply
    • Rich -  August 6, 2015 - 2:07 pm

      Same thing was stated in the article…your point???

      Reply
  34. Mohammad Iqbal Mirza -  August 6, 2015 - 9:42 am

    difference, well defined.

    Reply
  35. jyoti priyadarshini -  August 6, 2015 - 9:10 am

    informative and interesting

    Reply
  36. Julia Chattan -  August 6, 2015 - 8:32 am

    What is the difference between ‘farther’ and. ‘further’?

    Reply
    • Ricky Forguson -  August 6, 2015 - 11:20 am

      If you can measure a distance or span of time use “farther” (think “far”); if you are advancing a thought, idea, principle use “further” (think “fu-ture”).

      Reply
      • Clara A. -  August 9, 2015 - 4:20 pm

        Nice. That’s a great way to remember it. Thanks alot

        Reply
      • Jinan -  August 24, 2015 - 8:36 am

        lol I just realized that, that’s actually useful thx

        Reply
    • will -  August 6, 2015 - 6:07 pm

      Farther relates to distance, further relates to achivement, as in “Getting further in life”

      Reply
    • Kay Cee -  August 6, 2015 - 7:25 pm

      I believe the difference is the country that you live in. A bit like synchronize (USA, Canada) and synchronise (most other countries)….. -ize vs -ise

      Reply
      • JB -  August 19, 2015 - 11:50 pm

        I humbly disagree. And I say “humbly” because I have nothing to base my disagreement on other than the dictionary, which in the case you stated, I believe both spellings appear . If any one can clarify, Please do so. I am open minded.

        Reply
        • john doe -  August 24, 2015 - 2:40 pm

          do u hav u phon due

          Reply
        • Kay Cee -  August 27, 2015 - 7:27 pm

          Dear JB, I think you only need to determine the location/nationality of the publisher of the said dictionary/dictionaries and your ambiguity would be addressed. Publishers located in North America accept “-ize” as the norm.

          Anyway, this discussion is off thread. (Sorry everyone!)

          Reply
    • Don -  August 22, 2015 - 8:50 pm

      These are probably the most confusing two words in the English language, furthermore or in addition to I suspect I’ll be moving farther down the path to a brighter future.

      Reply
  37. Jim -  August 6, 2015 - 6:21 am

    The English use the phrase ‘capital idea’. Would that be the ‘a’ or the ‘o’?

    Reply
    • Darcie M -  August 6, 2015 - 10:25 am

      Capital. It is not referring to a building, is it.

      A capital idea also is defined as a good idea.

      Reply
    • Susan -  August 6, 2015 - 11:13 am

      Hi Jim,
      That would be capital – although it is not a phrase you hear much these days except in high society. Similarly, ‘a spiffing idea’ , often heard in old British movies is no longer in common use except possibly by the landed gentry.
      Capitol v capital is no problem for us Brits – we just don’t really use the former except if writing about US Capitol Building.

      Reply
    • Pat -  August 6, 2015 - 2:27 pm

      That’s the ‘a’ Used in that context, it has similar connotations to the idea of “principal; highly important,” as mentioned in the article. I think it’s also that same meaning behind the idea of a capital letter.

      Reply
    • George -  August 6, 2015 - 4:05 pm

      Jim, I think ‘capital idea’ would be said in the sense of a ‘top idea’ or ‘brilliant idea’ – therefore capital with the ‘a’ would be most appropriate, as it signifies importance or status.

      Reply
    • Jeanpaul -  August 6, 2015 - 5:56 pm

      Since Capit”o”l was described as having one meaning – “a building occupied by a state legislature.” Then deductive reasoning should tell us the English phrase must be the one with an “A”. (capit”A”l idea.)

      Reply
    • Varenikje -  August 7, 2015 - 12:45 am

      I believe that would be the word capital since that does not refer to a building.

      Reply
    • Diane -  August 7, 2015 - 7:33 am

      I would say ‘a’, because it means a first rate idea- primary importance.

      Reply
  38. Dara -  August 6, 2015 - 6:10 am

    Great tips, thank you!

    Reply
    • Radha -  August 7, 2015 - 3:48 am

      Thank you for being so informative. It was a great tip.I look forward for many more words that really confuse us .

      Reply
  39. Sai Nathan Ganesan Pillai -  August 5, 2015 - 8:22 pm

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