c. 1200, "main division of a book," from Old French chapitre (12c.) "chapter (of a book), article (of a treaty), chapter (of a cathedral)," alteration of chapitle, from Late Latin capitulum "main part, chapter of a book," in Medieval Latin also "a synod or council," literally "little head," diminutive of Latin caput "head," also "leader, guide, chief person; summit; capital city; origin, source, spring," figuratively "life, physical life;" in writing "a division, paragraph;" of money, "the principal sum," from PIE root *kaput- "head."
Sense of "local branch of a society or organization" (1815) is from the Church sense "body of the canons of a cathedral or collegiate church, members of a religious order" (late 14c.), which seems to trace to the convocations of canons at cathedral churches, during which the rules of the order by chapter, or a chapter (capitulum) of Scripture, were read aloud to the assembled. Chapter and verse "in full and thoroughly" (1620s) is a reference to Scripture.
1590s, "to draw up a writing in chapters or articles" (i.e., under "headings"), in part a back-formation from capitulation (q.v.), in part from Medieval Latin capitulatus, past participle of capitulare "to draw up in heads or chapters," hence "arrange conditions," from capitulum "chapter," in classical Latin "heading," literally "a little head," diminutive of caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
The word often was used in reference to terms of surrender, and thus it came to be associated with them and to mean "yield to an enemy on stipulated terms" (a sense attested from 1680s). Related: Capitulated; capitulating. Compare chapter; also compare recapitulate.
It forms all or part of: achieve; behead; biceps; cabbage; cabochon; caddie; cadet; cap; cap-a-pie; cape (n.1) "garment;" cape (n.2) "promontory;" capital (adj.); capital (n.3) "head of a column or pillar;" capitate; capitation; capitulate; capitulation; capitulum; capo (n.1) "leader of a Mafia family;" capo (n.2) "pitch-altering device for a stringed instrument;" caprice; capsize; captain; cattle; caudillo; chapter; chef; chief; chieftain; corporal (n.); decapitate; decapitation; forehead; head; hetman; kaput; kerchief; mischief; occipital; precipice; precipitate; precipitation; recapitulate; recapitulation; sinciput; triceps.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kaput-; Latin caput "head;" Old English heafod, German Haupt, Gothic haubiþ "head."
1781 (in Sophia Lee's comedy "A Chapter of Accidents," which was acted first in 1780), a minced euphemism for damn.
1620s, "inscription on a building, statue, etc.," from Greek epigraphē "an inscription," from epigraphein "to mark the surface, just pierce; write on, inscribe; to register; inscribe one's name, endorse," from epi "on" (see epi-) + graphein "to write" (see -graphy). Sense of "motto; short, pithy sentence at the head of a book or chapter" first recorded in English 1844. Related: Epigraphic; epigraphical.
"nuclear, biological and chemical weapons" attested by 1946, apparently first used (in Russian) by the Soviets.
The terms "weapons of mass destruction" and "WMD" mean chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and chemical, biological, and nuclear materials used in the manufacture of such weapons. [United States Code: Title 50, "War and National Defense," chapter 43, § 2902, 2009]
1530s, "an agreement on specified terms;" 1570s, "articles of agreement;" from French capitulation, noun of action from capituler "agree on specified terms," from Medieval Latin capitulare "to draw up in heads or chapters," hence "arrange conditions," from capitulum "chapter," in classical Latin "heading," literally "a little head," diminutive of caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). From 1640s in narrowed sense "the making of terms of surrender; a yielding to an enemy upon stipulated terms."