Monday, February 17, 2014

The Difference between Capital and Capitol…

Ahhh, which to use where?  What exactly is the difference between capital and capitol anyway?  Well, I have to say I never gave it too much thought in recent years because in Massachusetts we call it the Statehouse.   But on our recent trip to Texas, our route took us through six different state capitals. And when I decided to write something about it, I decided the best thing to do was to make sure I knew the difference.

Here’s what About.com has to say on the subject:  The word capitol is used to refer to the building where a legislature (such as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives) meets while the word capital refers to the city which serves as the seat of government.

You can remember the difference by thinking of the "o" in the word capitol as a dome, like the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the capital Washington D.C.

That’s good advice unless you think of the capitol building of Tennessee that really doesn’t really have a dome.  It has more of a big, round column that sticks up.  But it’s still the capitol.

Capital, on the other hand, has many meanings.  As a noun, it means:

1a. a town or city that is the official seat of government; 
b. a city that is the center of a specific activity or industry, e.g. the financial capital of the world.
2a. wealth in the form of money or property; 
b. material wealth used or available for use in the production of more wealth; 
c. human resources considered in terms of their contributions to an economy
3. an asset or advantage
4. a capital letter, meaning C but not c.

As an adjective it means:

1. first and foremost; principal, which means main or key (as opposed to principle, which means rule, belief, tenet and theory)
2. first-rate; excellent
3. relating to or being a seat of government.
4. involving death or calling for the death penalty, e.g. a capital offense
5. of or relating to financial assets.

Phew!  Capital really runs the gamut from a pile of bricks to a pile of money, from being the most important and the greatest to being the absolute. Capital is one capital word.

So now that I’ve got it straightened out, here are the capitols of the capitals we passed through on our trip to and from Texas.


Montgomery, Alabama

Austin, Texas

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Little Rock, Arkansas

Nashville, Tennessee

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

14 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

those are some fine capitols! :) i really like ok and tn, both.

Willow said...

GREAT SHARE and photos ~ amazing enough for me to use CAPITAL letters even :)

Sandra said...

should i use a capital or capitol H to say Hurts my Brain... LOL but i do love the photos

Debbie said...

I was going to use capital letters for my Capitol reply, but now I feel like a copy cat ;)

Beautiful images, I'm sure I have made that mistake!!

Beth @ E. Lizard Breath Speaks said...

i am like Sandra... that hurts my brain. neat shots. ( :

Brian King said...

All beautiful buildings. I really like the second one! And the last one.

Now if you could just straighten people out on "there, their, and they're". :-)

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I had never thought about the city being "capital" but the building "capitol." These are lovely buildings! Virginia has a lovely capitol--though I've never been inside. Isn't that terrible?

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Nicki said...

I will admit that I have to stop and consider the a or o. Very cool collection.

Lynn said...

Oh goodness why does language have to be so complicated. Beautiful buildings..

Lydia Martin said...

Great captures of the capitols and had not idea about the meanings and spelling and have prob been making mistakes for years LOL!

I like the Texas capitol the best

Gail Dixon said...

My husband and I just had this discussion the other day! How uncanny. I wish there weren't two spellings, but now that we know the difference, it'll be easier. Why does English have to be so darn complicated?

Rose said...

Oh, gee, I love them all...and thanks for lesson on capital and capitol!

magda said...

Χαχαααα, Barbara έχεις πάντα χιούμορ!!!
Μπερδευτήκαμε με την ανάλυση, αλλά ένα είναι σίγουρο: Οι φωτογραφίες σου από τα Capitols είναι εξαιρετικές!!!!
Χαίρομαι που ο γιος πήγε στην Πράγα και σας προκάλεσα ωραίες αναμνήσεις!
Πολλά φιλάκια