1854, "condition of having capital;" from capital (n.1) + -ism. The meaning "political/economic system which encourages capitalists" is recorded from 1872 and originally was used disparagingly by socialists. The meaning "concentration of capital in the hands of a few; the power or influence of large capital" is from 1877.
"Capital" may be most briefly described as wealth producing more wealth; and "capitalism" as the system directing that process. This latter term came into general use during the second half of the 19th century as a word chiefly signifying the world-wide modern system of organizing production and trade by private enterprise free to seek profit and fortune by employing for wages the mass of human labour. There is no satisfactory definition of the term, though nothing is more evident than the thing. [J.L. Garvin, "Capitalism" in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1929]
city in Japan, from kyo + to, both meaning "capital." Founded 794 as Heionkyo "Capital of Calm and Peace," it also has been known as Miyako and Saikyo. Kyoto Protocol so called because it was initially adopted Dec. 11, 1997, in the Japanese city.
capital of Afghanistan, named for its river, which carries a name of unknown origin.
c. 1200, "one who baptizes," also (with capital B-) a title of John, the forerunner of Christ; see baptize + -ist. As "member of a Protestant sect that believes in adult baptism upon profession of faith," generally by full immersion (with capital B-), attested from 1654; their opponents called them anabaptists (see Anabaptist).
type of framework shaped like the capital letter "A," by 1889; as a type of building construction in this shape from 1932.
Russian capital, named for the Moskva River, the name of which is of unknown origin. Moscow mule vodka cocktail is attested from 1950.
southern Vietnamese city, capital of former South Vietnam, named for its river, which bears a name of uncertain origin.
capital of Portugal, Portuguese Lisboa, perhaps from a Phoenician word; the derivation from Ulysses probably is folk-etymology.