capital, in architecture, the crowning member of a column, pilaster, or pier. It acts as the bearing member beneath the lintel or arch supported by the shaft and has a spreading contour appropriate to its function. The most primitive type, of which examples were found in the Beni Hassan tombs, Egypt, consisted of a square block. In later forms the capital had three well-defined parts: the neck, or necking, where it joins the shaft; the echinus, or spreading member above it; and the abacus, or block at the top. In Egypt such types were developed as early as 1500 B.C.; papyrus buds, the lotus, and the palm leaf were used as motifs of ornamentation. The Greeks perfected three types belonging to three separate orders of architecture—the Doric order, the Ionic order, and the Corinthian order—which were also used in slightly modified forms by the Romans in the form of the composite order. The classic forms of capitals continued in use after the fall of Rome, but the Romanesque and Gothic designers introduced new forms rich in variety: grotesque heads, birds, and animals. In the 15th cent., with the Renaissance, came a return to the classical orders that continued in use until the late 19th and early 20th cent. when the modernists cast out classical decoration.
capital, in economics, the elements of production from which an income is derived, usually defined with the exception of land and labor. As originally used in business, capital denoted interest-bearing money. In classical economic theory it was one of the three major factors of production, along with land and labor. In the broad sense, capital consists of such paper as stocks and bonds (financial capital), which is used to acquire the physical capital of tools, machines, stores of merchandise, houses, means of transportation—any materials used to extract, transport, create, or alter goods. Marketable intangibles, such as credits, goodwill, promises, patents, and franchises, are also included by some economists. Capital goods are those that form a nation's productive capacity, as opposed to consumer goods, which are bought for personal or household use. A distinction is also made between capital stocks, or circulating capital (such as raw materials, goods in process, finished goods, and sometimes wages), and capital instruments, or fixed capital (such as machines, tools, railways, and factories). Capital may be classed as specialized, such as railway equipment, or unspecialized, such as lumber or other raw materials having many uses. Economic theorists believe that capital arose out of the need to use the world's limited natural materials efficiently. The scarcity of the earth's resources necessitates the creation of materials (capital) that can act on the resources in such a way as to make more goods available to society than would normally exist. Capital goods can be considered a form of deferred consumption, because they produce goods for future consumption, but are not themselves consumable items. The expansion of capital formation—the flow of savings into the creation of new productive facilities—is often the most important target of economic planning.

See I. Fisher, The Nature of Capital and Income (1906); F. A. von Hayek, The Pure Theory of Capital (1941, repr. 1975); S. S. Kuznets, Capital in the American Economy (1961, repr. 1975); J. Robinson, Accumulation of Capital (3d ed. 1985); S. Ahmad, Capital in Economic Theory (1991).

or death penalty

Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment for murder, treason, arson, and rape was widely employed in ancient Greece, and the Romans also used it for a wide range of offenses. It also has been sanctioned at one time or another by most of the world's major religions. In 1794 the U.S. state of Pennsylvania became the first jurisdiction to restrict the death penalty to first-degree murder, and in 1846 Michigan abolished capital punishment for all murders and other common crimes. In 1863 Venezuela became the first country to abolish capital punishment for all crimes. Portugal was the first European country to abolish the death penalty (1867). By the mid-1960s some 25 countries had abolished the death penalty for murder. During the last third of the 20th century, the number of abolitionist countries increased more than threefold. Despite the movement toward abolition, many countries have retained capital punishment, and some have extended its scope. In the U.S., the federal government and roughly three-fourths of the states retain the death penalty, and death sentences are regularly carried out in China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Iran. Supporters of the death penalty claim that life imprisonment is not an effective deterrent to criminal behaviour. Opponents maintain that the death penalty has never been an effective deterrent, that errors sometimes lead to the execution of innocent persons, and that capital punishment is imposed inequitably, mostly on the poor and on racial minorities.

Learn more about capital punishment with a free trial on

Direct tax assessed simultaneously on the capital resources of all persons possessing taxable wealth in excess of a minimum value and paid at least partly out of capital resources. It aims at capturing a substantial portion of the taxpayers' wealth to enable the government to cope with a major emergency or to redistribute wealth. Capital levies were adopted in many European nations after World Wars I and II.

Learn more about capital levy with a free trial on

Uppercase, capital, or large letter in calligraphy, in contrast to the minuscule, lowercase, or small letter. All the letters in a majuscule script are contained between a single pair of real or theoretical horizontal lines. The earliest known Roman majuscule letters are in the style known as square capitals, distinguished by downstrokes that are heavier than upstrokes and by serifs (short strokes at right angles to the top and bottom of a letter). Square capitals were used mainly in inscriptions on Roman imperial monuments. Rustic capitals, used in books and official documents, formed a freer, more elliptical script. Roman cursive capitals, a running-hand script used for notes and letters, were a forerunner of the minuscule scripts that appeared later.

Learn more about majuscule with a free trial on

Tax levied on gains realized from the sale or exchange of capital assets. Though capital gains have been taxed in the U.S. since the advent of the federal income tax, certain capital gains are taxed less heavily than regular income, while others are exempted from taxation. This preferential treatment is intended to encourage investment and thereby stimulate economic growth. In theory the tax break encourages investors to risk their capital in new ventures. Critics argue that preferential treatment results in distorted patterns of investment because regular income is converted into capital gains in order to avoid paying income tax. Seealso corporate income tax.

Learn more about capital gains tax with a free trial on

In architecture, the crowning member of a column, pier, pilaster, or other vertical form, providing a structural support and transition for the horizontal member (entablature) or arch above. In Classical styles, the capital is the architectural member that most readily identifies the order. Simple stone capitals have been found in the earliest known pyramids of ancient Egypt (circa 2890–2686 BC), at Saqqarah.

Learn more about capital with a free trial on

Political entity (pop., 2006: 324,034), southeastern Australia. A capital territory was mandated by the 1901 Australian constitution; the site was chosen in 1908. It lies within New South Wales and consists of Canberra and the area around Jervis Bay. Parliament moved there from Melbourne in 1927. In 1989 the Territory received responsibility for self-government similar to that held by Australian states.

Learn more about Australian Capital Territory with a free trial on

Search another word or see capitalon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature