"repeat the principal things mentioned in a preceding discourse," 1560s, back-formation from recapitulation (q.v.) and also from Late Latin recapitulatus, past participle of recapitulare "go over the main points of a thing again," literally "restate by heads or chapters." Related: Recapitulated; recapitulating; recapitulative. As an adjective, Faulkner uses recapitulant.
Recapitulate is a precise word, applying to the formal or exact naming of points that have been with some exactness named before : as, it is often well after an extended argument, to recapitulate the heads. In this it differs from repeat, recite, rehearse, which are freer in their use. To reiterate is to say a thing a second time or oftener. [Century Dictionary]
That English keeps the proper classical sense in this word but gives simple capitulate only a restricted or extended sense is a curiosity that has been noted by Trench, G. Saintsbury ("Minor Poets of the Caroline Period"), etc.
updated on April 17, 2022