Origin: 1175–1225; Middle English; Related forms
(adj.) (< Anglo-French
) < Latin capitālis
of the head (capit-,
stem of caput
head, + -ālis -al1
); (noun) < Medieval Latin capitāle
wealth, noun use of neuter of capitālis
Can be confused: capital, Capitol
(see usage note at the current entry).
4. principal, investment, assets, stock. 11. prime, primary, first. The adjectives capital, chief, major, principal apply to a main or leading representative of a kind. Capital may mean larger or more prominent; it may also suggest preeminence or excellence: capital letter, idea, virtue, etc. Chief means leading, highest in office or power: the chief clerk. Major may refer to greatness of importance, number, or quantity: a major operation, the major part of a population. Principal refers to most distinguished, influential, or foremost: principal officer.
11. trivial, minor.
The noun capital1 refers to a city or town that is the seat of government; to a capital letter as opposed to a lowercase letter; and to wealth or resources. The noun Capitol refers primarily to the building in Washington, D.C., in which Congress sits or to similar buildings used by state legislatures.