General English


  • noun the money, property, and assets used in a business
  • noun money owned by individuals or companies, which they use for investment


  • The top member of a column, pier, pillar, post, or pilaster; usually decorative.


  • noun property, assets and finished goods used in a business. It is one of the four factors of production.
  • symbolK


  • (written as Capital)
    Financial assets such as cash, available credit, or highly liquid securities, or the monetary value of these assets. Available capital is necessary for foreign exchange investments and trading, since opportunities for profit in the forex market often appear rapidly and are open for only a short duration.

Health Economics

  • (written as Capital)
    Viewed variously as a physical stock of assets (buildings, land plant, equipment, etc.) that can earn income or generate utility, as a stock of financial assets (government bills, equities, bank balances, etc.), or as the present value of the net value of a flow of services over time that a particular asset or programme may yield. Capital (a stock) is measured at a point in time in contrast to investment (a flow), which takes place through time. Human capital is the stock of valuable resources embodied in a human being, not all of which is marketable (or ought, indeed, to be marketed). Health can be seen as an element in human capital that depreciates and may be invested in. Selling one's stock of human capital (in contrast to selling its flow) is one way of defining (voluntary) slavery, though this is more commonly called 'indenture' (needless to say, how 'voluntary' such indenture was is highly questionable).

Information & Library Science

  • noun money that is used to set up a business or invested to make more money

Media Studies

  • adjective referring to the form of letters used at the beginning of sentences and names, e.g. A, B and C as distinct from a, b and c


  • noun the most important city or town in a country or region

Origin & History of “capital”

Etymologically, capital is something that is at the top or ‘head’; it comes from Latin caput ‘head’. The various current English uses of the word reached us, however, by differing routes. The first to come was the adjective, which originally meant simply ‘of the head’ (Milton in Paradise lost wrote of the Serpent’s ‘capital bruise’, meaning the bruise to its head); this came via Old French capital from Latin capitālis, a derivative of caput. The other senses of the adjective have derived from this: ‘capital punishment’, for instance, comes from the notion of a crime which, figuratively speaking, affects the head, or life. Its use as a noun dates from the 17th century: the immediate source of the financial sense is Italian capitale. The architectural capital ‘top of a column’ (as in ‘Corinthian capitals’) also comes from Latin caput, but in this case the intermediate form was the diminutive capitellum ‘little head’, which reached English in the 14th century via Old French capitel.