early 13c., "of or pertaining to the head," from Old French capital, from Latin capitalis "of the head," hence "capital, chief, first," from caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). The meaning "main, principal, chief, dominant, first in importance" is from early 15c. in English. The modern informal sense of "excellent, first-rate" is by 1754 (as an exclamation of approval, OED's first example is 1875), perhaps from earlier use of the word in reference to ships, "first-rate, powerful enough to be in the line of battle," attested from 1650s, fallen into disuse after 1918. Related: Capitally.
A capital letter "upper-case latter," of larger face and differing more or less in form (late 14c.) is so called because it stands at the "head" of a sentence or word. Capital gain is recorded from 1921. Capital goods is recorded from 1899.
A capital crime or offense (1520s) is one that involves the penalty of death and thus affects the life or "head" (capital had a sense of "deadly, mortal" from late 14c. in English, as it did earlier in Latin). The felt connection between "head" and "life, mortality" also existed in Old English: as in heafodgilt "deadly sin, capital offense," heafdes þolian "to forfeit life." Capital punishment was in Blackstone (1765) and classical Latin capitis poena.
"toward or of the west," late Old English westerne "western, westerly, coming from the west," from west + -erne, suffix denoting direction. The noun meaning "book or movie about the Old West" is first attested 1909. Westerner is from 1837 as "person from the U.S. West," 1880 as "Euro-American," as opposed to Oriental.
Pacific island, an indigenous name, said to be from the name of a Polynesian chieftain, or else meaning "place of the moa." Related: Samoan (by 1837).
"head of a column or pillar," late 13c., from Anglo-French capitel, Old French chapitel (Modern French chapiteau), or directly from Latin capitellum "head of a column or pillar," literally "little head," diminutive of caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
1610s, "a person's wealth," from Medieval Latin capitale "stock, property," noun use of neuter of Latin capitalis "capital, chief, first" (see capital (adj.)). From 1640s as "the wealth employed in carrying on a particular business," then, in a broader sense in political economy, "that part of the produce of industry which is available for further production" (1793).
[The term capital] made its first appearance in medieval Latin as an adjective capitalis (from caput, head) modifying the word pars, to designate the principal sum of a money loan. The principal part of a loan was contrasted with the "usury"—later called interest—the payment made to the lender in addition to the return of the sum lent. This usage, unknown to classical Latin, had become common by the thirteenth century and possibly had begun as early as 1100 A.D., in the first chartered towns of Europe. [Frank A. Fetter, "Reformulation of the Concepts of Capital and Income in Economics and Accounting," 1937, in "Capital, Interest, & Rent," 1977]
Also see cattle, and compare sense development of fee, and pecuniary. Middle English had chief money "principal fund" (mid-14c.). The noun use of the adjective in classical Latin meant "a capital crime."
late 14c.; see capital (adj.). So called because it is at the "head" of a sentence or word.
capital of the Bahamas, a name attested from 1690s, given in honor of King William III of England (1650-1702), of the House of Orange-Nassau, from the duchy of Nassau in western Germany, named for a village in the Lahn valley, from Old High German nass "wet." Related: Nassauvian.
late 14c., "western part" (of the heavens or the earth), from Old French occident (12c.) or directly from Latin occidentem (nominative occidens) "western sky, sunset, part of the sky in which the sun sets," noun use of adjective meaning "setting," from present participle of occidere "fall down, go down" (see occasion (n.)). As a geopolitical term, sometimes with a capital O, always somewhat imprecise.
With the definite article, the west; western countries; specifically, those countries lying to the west of Asia and of that part of eastern Europe now or formerly constituting in general European Turkey; Christendom. Various countries, as Russia, may be classed either in the Occident or in the Orient. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
both the Libyan capital and the Lebanese port city represent Greek tri- "three" (see tri-) + polis "city" (see polis). In Libya, Tripolis was the name of a Phoenician colony consisting of Oea (which grew into modern Tripoli), Leptis Magna, and Sabratha. Arabic distinguishes them as Tarabulus ash-sham ("Syrian Tripoli") and Tarabulus al-garb ("Western Tripoli").