Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a corresponding word to go with capital to mean lower-case?

share|improve this question
    
Computer geeks informally say "no caps" –  barrycarter Apr 7 '11 at 16:22
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There are capital letters and small letters.

In a formal or technical context I would use "lower-case" to avoid seeming like a young child talking about big letters and small letters.

share|improve this answer
6  
There are also small capital letters: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_caps. –  DiggyF Apr 7 '11 at 19:33
    
Argh. Blast you, Small Caps. It was all becoming so clear. –  jbelacqua Apr 8 '11 at 5:51
    
add comment

In typography and calligraphy the corresponding terms are majuscule and minuscule:

See the Wikipedia entry on Capital letters. Minuscule also serves as the counterpart of capital.

share|improve this answer
add comment

For this analogy question, small is the word you are looking for:

uppercase : capital :: lowercase : small

small (adj): lowercase


Definition 1b of small in Merriam-Webster

share|improve this answer
    
Wow. I had no idea. –  jbelacqua Apr 8 '11 at 5:50
add comment

Minuscule is also the word for them, although I doubt most people would know what you were talking about.

share|improve this answer
    
Correction: should be minuscule. –  JSBձոգչ Apr 7 '11 at 13:37
1  
@JSBangs: I always wonder how ibuprofen manages to retain its U when minuscule has such difficulty. They're subject to basically the same sound change in many accents, which should put the same pressure on their spelling. Then again, minuscule has the added hit of being conflated with mini-. –  Jon Purdy Apr 7 '11 at 14:03
    
I assume, those spelling it wrong, like me, are thinking miniature, or mini in the back of their minds. Also not being able to spell, helps. –  Sam Apr 7 '11 at 14:06
1  
I think in most speakers minds the start of "minuscule" is indeed conflated with "mini-". I suspect "ibuprofen" has an additional accent on the second syllable (at least for many UK speakers) so the two 'u's aren't completely comparable. –  Neil Coffey Apr 7 '11 at 14:24
    
@Neil Coffey: there's no extra accent in "ibuprofen", it's just a new word that hasn't had time to get corrupted yet. If you listen to how people pronounce it, the "u" is turning into a schwa. –  user1579 Apr 7 '11 at 14:53
show 1 more comment

No, there is no equivalent (Like Pedi-Letter or something "Foot" related instead of "Head" related.)

You have the following options

  1. lowercase
  2. lowercase letter
  3. minuscule
  4. small letter

Although I do not recommend 3 unless you are amongst typographers, nor 4 (you will sound childish).

share|improve this answer
3  
I think you will sound just as childish in North America if you use 4 –  Kevin Apr 7 '11 at 13:46
    
@Kevin - Fixed :D –  trideceth12 Apr 7 '11 at 13:51
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.