Capitonyms




A capitonym is a word whose meaning changes based on whether or not it is capitalized. Capitonyms are a variation on multiple meaning words, or homonyms. They have the same spelling, but different meanings. Capitonyms can be nouns, verbs, or adjectives.

Examples of pairs of capitonyms are:

  • Turkey (the country) and turkey (the bird)
  • China (the country) and china (as in porcelain)

Most often, capitonym pairs feature one word as a common noun and the other as a proper noun. Verbs can also be capitonyms. For instance:

  • March (the month) and march (to walk)

Sometimes a capitonym doesn’t change just in meaning, but also in pronunciation. For example:

  • Mobile (the city in Alabama) is pronounced differently, with emphasis on the first syllable, than a mobile phone, with emphasis on the second syllable.

Learn about more Frequently Confused Words: homonyms, homophones, and heteronyms/homographs.

View Common Core State Standards Related to CapitonymsClose

Common Core State Standards Related to Capitonyms

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade-level reading and content.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.4.a
Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.4a
Use context (e.g., definitions, examples, cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text, or restatements in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

CCSS.ELA­-Literacy.L.5.4.a
Use context (e.g., cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

CCSS.ELA­-Literacy.L.K.4.a
Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).

View Words at a GlanceClose

K – 2nd Grade Capitonyms: Queens, mohawk, earth, Earth, March, may, march, queens, May, Mohawk

3rd – 5th Grade Capitonyms: patriots, Phoenix, phoenix, turkey, Titanic, mercury, titanic, Mercury, Patriots, Turkey

6th – 8th Grade Capitonyms: jodhpur, mercury, Orient, Mobile, pentagon, Mercury, orient, Pentagon, Jodhpur, mobile

9th – 12th Grade Capitonyms: Manila, Platonic, Jodhpur, gasconade, jodhpur, Saskatoon, platonic, Gasconade, manila, saskatoon

Capitonym lessons are a great way to show students how much capitalization matters, and matching or fill-in-the-blank games are a fun way to reinforce the lesson.

Try MatchIt Sentences with the Grade 3 Capitonyms list.