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Capitonym illustration: a large turkey and a map of the country Turkey shows how adding a capital changes the meaning


A capitonym is a word that changes meaning and sometimes pronunciation when capitalised.

You'll be familiar with many examples:

  • turkey/Turkey
  • may/May
  • march/March
  • august/August
  • lent/Lent
  • reading/Reading
  • mobile/Mobile
  • polish/Polish
  • alpine/Alpine
  • china/China

For years as a kid, no joke, I couldn’t understand why there was a polish club at the bottom of our road. Yes, it was a Polish club.

Capitonyms are also heteronyms when they change pronunciation as for polish and Polish.

Also see acronym or initialism


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