AskDefine | Define capital

Dictionary Definition

capital adj
1 first-rate; "a capital fellow"; "a capital idea"
2 punishable by death; "a capital offense"
3 of primary important; "our capital concern was to avoid defeat"
4 uppercase; "capital A"; "great A"; "many medieval manuscripts are in majuscule script" [syn: great, majuscule]

Noun

1 assets available for use in the production of further assets [syn: working capital]
2 wealth in the form of money or property owned by a person or business and human resources of economic value
3 a seat of government
4 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 letter, upper case, upper-case letter, majuscule] [ant: small letter]
5 a book written by Karl Marx (1867) describing his economic theories [syn: Das Kapital]
6 the upper part of a column that supports the entablature [syn: chapiter, cap]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From the capitalis, "of the head." Use in trade and finance originated in Medieval economies when a common but expensive transaction involved trading heads of cattle.

Pronunciation

Homophones

Noun

  1. A city designated as a legislative seat by the government or some other authority, often the city in which the government is located; otherwise the most important city within a country or a subdivision of it.
    Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States of America.
    The Welsh government claims that Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital.
  2. Money and wealth. The means to acquire goods and services, especially in a non-barter system.
  3. Already-produced durable goods available for use as a factor of production, such as steam shovels (equipment) and office buildings (structures).
  4. An uppercase letter.
  5. The uppermost part of a column.

Usage notes

The homophone capitol refers only to a building, usually one that houses the legislative branch of a government, and often one located in a capital city.

Translations

city designated as such
money and wealth
uppercase letter
uppermost part of a column
  • Estonian: kapiteel
  • Finnish: kapiteeli
  • German: Kapitell
  • Greek: κιονόκρανο
  • Italian: capitello
  • Korean: 대문자 (daemunja)
  • Polish: nagłówek
  • Russian: капитель (kapitél’)
  • Spanish: capitel
  • Swedish: kapitäl

Synonyms

* caps (in the plural)

Antonyms

* minuscule

Adjective

  1. of prime importance
  2. In the context of "British": excellent
    That is a capital idea!
  3. involving punishment by death
    Not all felonies are capital crimes.
  4. uppercase
    One begins a sentence with a capital letter.

Translations

of prime importance
excellent
involving punishment by death
uppercase

Antonyms

* lower-case

French

Pronunciation

  • /ka.pi.tal/
  • /ka.pi.tal/

Noun

  1. Capital (money and wealth)

Adjective

  1. Capital (important)
    La peine capitale est abolie en France depuis les années 1980.

Portuguese

Noun

  1. capital

Noun

  1. capital

Spanish

Etymology

From capitalis

Noun

  1. capital italbrac finance
  2. capital italbrac city

Extensive Definition

A capital is the area of a country regarded as enjoying primary status; it is almost always the city which physically encompasses the offices and meeting places of the seat of government and fixed by law, but there are a number of exceptions. Alternate terms include capital city and political capital; the latter phrase has a second meaning based on an alternative sense of "capital". The word capital is derived from the Latin caput meaning "head," and, in the United States, the related term Capitol refers to the building where government business is chiefly conducted. Seats of government in major sub-state jurisdictions are often called "capitals", but this is typically the case only in countries with some degree of federalism, where major substate jurisdictions have an element of sovereignty. In unitary states, "administrative center" or other similar terms are typically used. For example, the seat of government in a state of the United States of America is usually called its "capital", but the main city in a region of England is usually not. At lower administrative subdivisions, terms such as county town, county seat, or borough seat are usually used.
Historically, the major economic center of a state or region often becomes the focal point of political power, and becomes a capital through conquest or amalgamation. This was the case for London and Moscow. The capital naturally attracts the politically motivated and those whose skills are needed for efficient administration of government such as lawyers, journalists, and public policy researchers. A capital that is the prime economic, cultural, or intellectual center is sometimes referred to as a primate city. Such is certainly the case with London and Buenos Aires among national capitals, and Irkutsk or Salt Lake City in their respective state or province. Capitals are sometimes sited to discourage further growth in an existing major city. Brasília was situated in Brazil's interior because the old capital, Rio de Janeiro, and southeastern Brazil in general, were considered over-crowded. The convergence of political and economic or cultural power is by no means universal. Traditional capitals may be economically eclipsed by provincial rivals, as occurred with Nanjing by Shanghai. The decline of a dynasty or culture could also mean the extinction of its capital city, as occurred with Babylon and Cahokia. Many present-day capital cities, such as Abuja, Brasília, Canberra, Islamabad, Ottawa and Washington, D.C. are planned cities, purposefully located away from established population centres for various reasons, and have become gradually established as new business or commercial centres.

Unorthodox capital city arrangements

A number of cases exist where states or other entities have multiple capitals, and there are also several states that have no capital. In other cases, the official capital is not the effective one for pragmatic reasons. That is, the city known as the capital is not the seat of government. Occasionally, the official capital may host the seat of government, but is not the geographic origin of political decision-making.

Capital as symbol

With the rise of modern empires and the nation-state, the capital city has become a symbol for the state and its government, and imbued with political meaning. Unlike medieval capitals, which were declared wherever a monarch held his or her court, the selection, relocation, founding or capture of a modern capital city is an emotional affair. For example:

Strategic importance of capitals

The capital city is almost always a primary target in a war, as capturing it usually guarantees capture of much of the enemy government, victory for the attacking forces, or at the very least demoralization for the defeated forces. In ancient China, where governments were massive centralized bureaucracies with little flexibility on the provincial level, a dynasty could easily be toppled with the fall of its capital. In the Three Kingdoms period, both Shu and Wu fell when their respective capitals of Chengdu and Jianye fell. The Ming dynasty relocated its capital from Nanjing to Beijing, where they could more effectively control the generals and troops guarding the borders from Mongols and Manchus. The Ming was destroyed when the Li Zicheng took their seat of power, and this pattern repeats itself in Chinese history, until the fall of the traditional Confucian monarchy in the 20th century. After the Qing Dynasty's collapse, decentralization of authority and improved transportation technologies allowed both the Chinese Nationalists and Chinese Communists to rapidly relocate capitals and keep their leadership structures intact during the great crisis of Japanese invasion. National capitals were arguably less important as military objectives in other parts of the world, including the West, due to socioeconomic trends toward localized authority, a strategic modus operandi especially popular after the development of feudalism and reaffirmed by the development of democratic and capitalistic philosophies. In 1204, after the Latin Crusaders captured the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, Byzantine forces were able to regroup in several provinces; provincial noblemen managed to reconquer the capital after 60 years and preserve the empire for another 200 years after that. The British forces sacked various American capitals repeatedly during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, but American forces could still carry on fighting from the countryside, where they enjoyed support from local governments and the traditionally independent frontiersmen-civilians. Exceptions to these generalizations include highly centralized states such as France, whose centralized bureaucracies could effectively coordinate far-flung resources, giving the state a powerful advantage over less coherent rivals, but risking utter ruin if the capital is taken; in their military strategies, traditional enemies of France such as Germany focused on the capture of Paris.

References

See also

capital in Afrikaans: Hoofstad
capital in Tosk Albanian: Hauptstadt
capital in Amharic: ዋና ከተማ
capital in Old English (ca. 450-1100): Heafodburg
capital in Arabic: عاصمة
capital in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܐܪܫܟܝܬܐ
capital in Min Nan: Siú-to͘
capital in Belarusian: Сталіца
capital in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Сталіца
capital in Central Bicolano: Kapitolyo
capital in Breton: Kêr-benn
capital in Bulgarian: Столица
capital in Catalan: Capital
capital in Czech: Hlavní město
capital in Welsh: Prif Ddinas
capital in Danish: Hovedstad
capital in German: Hauptstadt
capital in Estonian: Pealinn
capital in Modern Greek (1453-): Πρωτεύουσα
capital in Spanish: Capital (política)
capital in Esperanto: Ĉefurbo
capital in Basque: Hiriburu (politika)
capital in Persian: پایتخت
capital in French: Capitale
capital in Western Frisian: Haadstêd
capital in Irish: Príomhchathair
capital in Manx: Ard-valley
capital in Galician: Capital
capital in Gujarati: રાજધાની
capital in Gothic: АŒ·ðŒ°ðŒ¿ðŒ±ðŒ¹ðŒ³ðŒ°ðŒ±ðŒ°ðŒ¿ð‚𐌲𐍃
capital in Korean: 수도
capital in Croatian: Glavni grad
capital in Ido: Chefurbi
capital in Indonesian: Ibu kota
capital in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Capital
capital in Ossetian: Сæйраг сахар
capital in Icelandic: Höfuðborg
capital in Italian: Capitale (città)
capital in Hebrew: עיר בירה
capital in Javanese: Ibu kutha
capital in Georgian: დედაქალაქი
capital in Swahili (macrolanguage): Mji mkuu
capital in Haitian: Kapital
capital in Kurdish: Serbajar
capital in Latin: Caput
capital in Latvian: Galvaspilsēta
capital in Lithuanian: Sostinė
capital in Limburgan: Houfsjtad
capital in Hungarian: Főváros
capital in Macedonian: Главен град
capital in Malay (macrolanguage): Ibu negara
capital in Mongolian: Нийслэл хот
capital in Dutch: Hoofdstad
capital in Japanese: 首都
capital in Norwegian: Hovedstad
capital in Norwegian Nynorsk: Hovudstad
capital in Narom: Capitale
capital in Low German: Hööftstadt
capital in Polish: Stolica
capital in Portuguese: Capital
capital in Crimean Tatar: Paytaht
capital in Romanian: Capitală
capital in Vlax Romani: Sherutno foro
capital in Romansh: Chapitala
capital in Russian: Столица
capital in Sardinian: Capitali
capital in Simple English: Capital (city)
capital in Slovak: Hlavné mesto
capital in Church Slavic: Стольнъ градъ
capital in Slovenian: Glavno mesto
capital in Serbian: Главни град
capital in Sundanese: Ibu kota
capital in Finnish: Pääkaupunki
capital in Swedish: Huvudstad
capital in Tamil: தலைநகரம்
capital in Thai: เมืองหลวง
capital in Vietnamese: Thủ đô
capital in Turkish: Başkent
capital in Ukrainian: Столиця
capital in Urdu: دارالحکومت
capital in Volapük: Cifazif
capital in Yiddish: הויפטשטאט
capital in Yoruba: Oluilu
capital in Contenese: 首都
capital in Chinese: 首都

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Grade A, abecedarian, ability, acmatic, advantageous, all-absorbing, allographic, alphabetic, apical, arch, art center, ascender, assets, auspicious, available means, back, balance, banner, basic, bastard type, beard, belly, beneficial, benevolent, bevel, black letter, body, bon, bonny, bracket capital, braw, bueno, cap, capacity, capital city, capital gains distribution, capital goods, capital structure, capitalization, cardinal, case, cash, central, champion, chief, choice, circulating capital, cock, cogent, commendable, consummate, controlling, cornice, corpus, counter, county seat, county site, county town, crown, crowning, dandy, descender, devices, disposable resources, dominant, elegant, em, en, equity capital, essential, estimable, excellent, expedient, extraordinary, face, fair, famous, fat-faced type, favorable, feet, finances, financial, fine, first, first-class, first-rate, first-string, fiscal, fixed capital, flagrant, floating capital, focal, font, foremost, fund, fundamental, funds, garment center, glaring, good, goodly, grand, graphemic, great, grist, groove, gross, head, headmost, healthy, hegemonic, helpful, highest, holdings, ideographic, important, initial, italic, kind, laudable, leading, letter, lettered, lexigraphic, ligature, liquid assets, literal, logogrammatic, logographic, logotype, lower case, lower-case, magisterial, main, major, majuscule, manufacturing center, master, matchless, maximal, maximum, mean, means, medical center, meridian, meridional, method, metropolis, minuscular, minuscule, monetary, money, moneyed capital, nice, nick, noble, number one, numismatic, nummary, outstanding, overmost, overriding, overruling, paramount, pecuniary, peerless, pi, pica, pictographic, pleasant, point, power, predominant, preeminent, premier, preponderant, prevailing, primal, primary, prime, principal, print, profitable, property, railroad center, rank, ranking, recourses, regal, resorts, resource, resources, ripping, roman, royal, ruling, sans serif, savings, script, seat, seat of government, select, shank, shipping center, shire town, shopping center, shoulder, skillful, small cap, small capital, smashing, sound, sovereign, splendid, stamp, star, stellar, stem, sterling, stock, summital, sumptuary, super, superb, supereminent, superior, supply, supreme, tip-top, top, top-hole, top-notch, topflight, topmost, topping, tourist center, trade center, transliterated, type, type body, type class, type lice, typecase, typeface, typefounders, typefoundry, ultimate, uncial, underlying, upmost, upper case, upper-case, uppermost, urban center, useful, valid, venture capital, vertical, very good, virtuous, vital, ways, ways and means, wealth, wherewith, wherewithal, working capital, zenithal
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