Quick Summary

The Latin root word capit means “head.” This Latin root is the word origin of a good number of English vocabulary words, including captain and decapitate. The root word capit is easily recalled through the word capital, the “head” city of a state, such as Madison being the capital of Wisconsin.

Capit Is Heads Above!

The root word capit means “head.” Today we will undertake a capital podcast so that you can hold up your “head” when seeing words with capit in them!

The capital of a state is its “head” city. The Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. is where Congress meets, the “head” lawmaking body of the United States; each state has its own capitol building as well, where laws are made by their respective state legislatures.

A capital letter is always used at the beginning or “head” of a sentence. Proper nouns are capitalized to show that they are important, that is, are “heads” above more lowly nouns. Speaking of being “heads” above, the captain of a ship is, you guessed it, the “head” of a ship. The Latin root word capit also gave rise to the word for captain in numerous Romance languages, including the Spanish capitan, French capitaine, Italian capitano, and Portuguese capitao.

A pirate captain might decapitate an enemy, or cut off his “head!” Pirates wear great hats, a little more glorified than say baseball *cap*s, which also sit on “heads.”

When economists talk about per capita income, they are talking about the amount of money that each individual person makes, that is, they are counting by each and everyone’s “head.” When judges speak of capital punishment, they are referring to a severe penalty that mortally affects the “head” of a convicted criminal, thus ending his life.

A couple of words that come from capit form interesting word histories. The word cattle, for instance, once referred to a farmer’s “head” or most valuable property; these bulls and cows were numbered in “head” of cattle. And a chapter in a book forms a “heading” for an important section.

Hopefully I don’t have to recapitulate, or go back to the “head” point of this podcast, for your “head” to remember that capit means “head!”

  1. capital: ‘head’ city of a state
  2. Capitol Building: ‘head’ building of Congress
  3. Capitol Hill: ‘head’ hill in Washington, D.C.
  4. capital letter: used at the ‘head’ of a sentence, or for a ‘head’ noun
  5. captain: ‘head’ of something, like a ship
  6. capitan: Spanish word for ‘head’ of something
  7. capitaine: French word for ‘head’ of something
  8. capitano: Italian word for ‘head’ of something
  9. capitao: Portuguese word for ‘head’ of something
  10. decapitate: to cut off the ‘head’
  11. cap: covering for the ‘head’
  12. per capita: by the ‘head’
  13. capital punishment: taking the ‘head,’ or the life, of a criminal
  14. cattle: ‘head’ property of a farmer
  15. chapter: ‘head’ of part of a book
  16. recapitulate: come back to the ‘head’ again


  • precipitate

    To precipitate something is to bring it about before its time or very quickly.

  • recapitulate

    When someone recapitulates, they summarize material or content of some kind by repeating the most important points.

  • capitulate

    When you capitulate, you accept or agree to do something after having resisted doing so for a long time.

  • precipitous

    A precipitous cliff or drop is very steep or falls sharply.

  • capital


  • capitalism

    an economic system based on private ownership of capital

  • capitalization

    writing in capital letters

  • capitalize

    draw advantages from

  • capitol

    a building occupied by a state legislature

  • capitulation

    a document containing the terms of surrender

  • caprice

    a sudden desire

  • captain

    be the captain of a sports team

  • chapter

    a subdivision of a written work

  • decapitate

    cut the head of

  • precipitation

    the quantity of water falling to earth at a specific place within a specified period of time

  • recapitulation

    emergence during embryonic development of various characters or structures that appeared during the evolutionary history of the strain or species

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