Find the word definition

The Collaborative International Dictionary
Capital letter

Capital \Cap"i*tal\, a. [F. capital, L. capitalis capital (in senses 1 & 2), fr. caput head. See Chief, and cf. Capital, n.]

  1. Of or pertaining to the head. [Obs.]

    Needs must the Serpent now his capital bruise Expect with mortal pain.

  2. Having reference to, or involving, the forfeiture of the head or life; affecting life; punishable with death; as, capital trials; capital punishment.

    Many crimes that are capital among us.

    To put to death a capital offender.

  3. First in importance; chief; principal.

    A capital article in religion

    Whatever is capital and essential in Christianity.
    --I. Taylor.

  4. Chief, in a political sense, as being the seat of the general government of a state or nation; as, Washington and Paris are capital cities.

  5. Of first rate quality; excellent; as, a capital speech or song. [Colloq.]

    Capital letter [F, lettre capitale] (Print.), a leading or heading letter, used at the beginning of a sentence and as the first letter of certain words, distinguished, for the most part, both by different form and larger size, from the small (lower-case) letters, which form the greater part of common print or writing.

    Small capital letters have the form of capital letters and height of the body of the lower-case letters.

    Capital stock, money, property, or stock invested in any business, or the enterprise of any corporation or institution.

    Syn: Chief; leading; controlling; prominent.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
capital letter

late 14c.; see capital (adj.). So called because it is at the "head" of a sentence or word.

capital letter

n. An upper case letter (A, B, C, ... as opposed to a, b, c, ...), used for emphasis, for starting sentences and proper names, etc.

capital letter

n. one of the large alphabetic characters used as the first letter in writing or printing proper names and sometimes for emphasis; "printers once kept the type for capitals and for small letters in separate cases; capitals were kept in the upper half of the type case and so became known as upper-case letters" [syn: capital, upper case, upper-case letter, majuscule] [ant: small letter]

Usage examples of "capital letter".

An assortment of six-inch-high capital letter T's, made from cloth, mounted under glass, along with a corny photo of the seventeen-year-old Cozzano, pigskin tucked under one arm, other arm held out like a jouster's lance to straight-arm an imaginary linebacker from Arcola or Rantoul.

Shall we erect the mystery into an Unknowable, like Spencer, and call ourselves Agnostics with a capital letter, like Huxley?

The thought of self, the worship of that capital letter ``N'' with which he signed all his letters, and which recurred forever in the ornaments of his hastily constructed palaces, the absolute will to make the name Napoleon the most important thing in the world next to the name of God, these desires carried Napoleon to a pinnacle of fame which no other man has ever reached.

Under each capital letter were inscribed names followed by very characteristic notes.

They certainly are not good to eat, even in brine, and we grant them a capital letter to keep the kids mindful not to step on them barefoot.