Capitulate vs recapitulate

Capitulate and recapitulate are two words that seem like they should have related definitions, but they do not. We will look at the difference in meaning between capitulate and recapitulate, their shared origins and some examples of their use in sentences.

Capitulate means to give in, to surrender, to stop resisting. Capitulate is an intransitive verb which is a verb that does not take a direct object, related words are capitulates, capitulated, capitulating. The word capitulate is derived from the Latin word capitulare which means to draw up under headings. Originally, capitulate referred mainly to drawing up or listing terms necessary to end a military conflict. In time, the meaning of capitulate came to simply refer to the surrender, not necessarily the act of listing the terms necessary to achieve the surrender.

Recapitulate means to restate the main points of an argument, story or speech, to summarize. Recapitulate is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object, related words are recapitulates, recapitulated, recapitulating. The word recapitulate is also derived from the Latin word capitulare, and retains the meaning of drawing up a list. The prefix re- means to do again. In effect, the word recapitulate is closer to the original Latin meaning than capitulate, even though both words came into the English language at virtually the same time.


Taoiseach Enda Kenny is preparing to capitulate to the demands of the public sector unions and bring forward talks on a renegotiated pay deal, the Sunday Independent has learnt. (The Irish Independent)

Using the resultant collection, the team was able to recapitulate 15 years of research, Barstow said, bolstering their confidence in their method. (The Daily News & Analysis)

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