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From Middle English capital, borrowed from Latin capit?lis (“of the head”) (in sense “head of cattle”), from caput (“head”) (English cap). Use in trade and finance originated in Medieval economies when a common but expensive transaction involved trading heads of cattle.
Compare chattel and kith and kine (“all one’s possessions”), which also use “cow” to mean “property”.
This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.
capital (countable and uncountable, plural capitals)
- (uncountable, economics) Already-produced durable goods available for use as a factor of production, such as steam shovels (equipment) and office buildings (structures).
- (uncountable, business, finance, insurance) Money and wealth. The means to acquire goods and services, especially in a non-barter system.
- (countable) 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.
- (countable) The most important city in the field specified.
- (countable) An uppercase letter.
- (countable, architecture) The uppermost part of a column.
- (uncountable) Knowledge; awareness; proficiency.
- (countable, by extension) The chief or most important thing.
capital (not comparable)