Dan Brown’s top-selling book “The Lost Symbol” talks about masonic secrets symbolized in monuments throughout America’s capital city Washington DC and a mystery that begins with a mutilated hand in the US Capitol building.

The words capital and capitol are used in formal contexts. You can either hear these words in the news or when there’s talk about politics and crimes. Since only an ‘a’ sets them apart the terms are quite befuddling. The key to remembering them is that capital has a number of meanings and applications but the word capitol means a building or a cluster of buildings that houses the legislature. As a noun, capital means a reserve of money or the most important city of a country which is a seat of the government. Every country has a capital and so does every state. The capital of UK is London and the capital of the American state of Alaska is Juneau. As an adjective it means ‘of primary importance’ or a crime that deserves severest of punishment like death penalty. Moreover, it also denotes uppercase letters. Let’s look at their meanings in detail.

Capital vs capitol – definitions and meanings

Definition of capital

The word capital has roots in the Latin term caput that translates to “head.” Capital as a noun denotes the city that houses the government’s headquarters of a state or country. It also means a lot of wealth in possession of an individual or a corporation. As an adjective capital means uppercase letters with which a sentence or proper noun begins. Moreover, it can also be used to describe something that is of tremendous influence or importance.

Example sentences of capital:

  1. Capital as a noun: Turkey’s capital Istanbul was previously called Constantinople.

This sentence tells us that Turkey’s prime city (which houses the parliament) Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinople.

  1. Capital as a noun: Opening up a franchise requires lesser capital investment as compared to a chain-branch.

This sentence advises business owners that opening up a new franchise requires lesser monetary investment as compared to a chain-branch.

  1. Capital as an adjective: The I.T team’s knowledge of networking infrastructure was of capital importance when it came down to troubleshooting network systems.

Capital in this sentence means crucial. The sentence says that the I.T team’s knowledge on network infrastructure was of prime importance as it helped them fix many networking problems.

  1. Capital as an adjective: The renowned lawyer argued in favor of capital punishment since the convict had not only stolen, but had killed an innocent person.

Capital in this sentence denotes death penalty. The sentence talks about the proceedings of a case. A lawyer is arguing against the criminal that he should be sentenced to death since he has been proven guilty of theft and murder.

Definition of capitol

The word capitol evolved from the Latin term ‘Capitolium’ which was originally the name of the structure in Rome located at the Capitoline hill ‘the temple of Jupiter.’ It is used as a noun that refers to the parliament lodges or a collection of buildings where the government’s legislative affairs are carried out. Capitol when spelled with a capital ‘C’ denotes specifically a building in Washington DC where the American congress meets. The Capitol Building happens to be located on the Capitol Hill.

Example sentences of capitol

  1. After the US election of 2020, orthodox protestors broke into the Capitol building among which were supporters of the baseless conspiracy theory QAnon and far-right groups.

Soon after the US election of 2020, extremist individuals broke in at the US capitol building. According to BBC, they had been attending rallies in favor of Donald Trump and were claiming that the elections were fraudulent.

  1. Dan Brown’s book “The Lost Symbol” features a captivating mystery that initiates at the Rotunda in the Capitol building.

This sentence talks about the mystery in Dan Brown’s famous book ‘The Lost Symbol.’ Robert Langdon, a top detective finds a mutilated hand with a masonic ring in the middle of the Capitol building. The cut hand happens to belong to his close friend who has close ties with the freemasons.

  1. Archaeologists dug up priceless ornaments at the excavation site of the historical capitol.

A historically significant building was dug up and many archaeologists found valuable handicrafts and sculptures.

From the above examples, you can see that differentiating capital and capitol is an easy task. If you’d like extra help in memorizing them, then associate the o of capitol with the o of only one, because it has only one meaning – a building. So you now know that all the other meanings are associated with the word capital.