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A guy at work said in an email

I won't capitulate with your demands!

Is capitulate with used correctly? Should it not be capitulate to?

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This question reads like a setup line for a joke. EDITOR: Your book manuscript doesn’t have any chapters in it; why didn’t you capitulate‌​? AUTHOR: Couldn’t be bothered. EDITOR: Well here, take it back and do so: better to capitulate than never. – tchrist Mar 2 '12 at 17:07
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are correct. The guy at work might be a time traveler from the early 1800's. I should note that even in the early 1800's, "capitulate with" was generally followed by the person. So perhaps, he's a time-traveler from the 1800's who meant to say "I won't capitulate with you!".

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Capitulate is a verb that means to surrender, so you are correct.

a : to surrender often after negotiation of terms

The country still refuses to capitulate despite its weakening army and dwindling resources.

The teacher refused to capitulate: no calculators were to be used during the exam.

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I agree with David and Cornbread, but just to beat the subject to death, I'd add that you can say "capitulate with" if you mean that both parties are surrendering at the same time. Like:

Al: "I'm tired of fighting. I'm just going to capitulate to his demands."

Bob: "You're right. I'll capitulate with you."

But as used in your example, it doesn't make sense. "I" and "your demands" demands are not capitulating together. "I" is capitulating TO "your demands".

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That's probably the only use of "capitulate with" left, but it used to be used to mean "conditionally surrender to". See, for example, this old dictionary entry. – David Schwartz Mar 3 '12 at 2:28

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