Waleed made his pilgrimage to Mecca.

This is a given. But I would write:

Bombay is India’s entertainment mecca

Is this correct, or is Mecca capitalized in its figurative use, as well?

  • 3
    I'm certain I once saw Jerusalem described as "a Mecca for Jews". This is wrong on so many levels. – TRiG Jul 7 '11 at 16:51

According to the Associated Press stylebook:

mecca. Lowercase in the metaphorical sense; capitalize (Mecca) the city in Saudi Arabia."

This would seem to be a common sense application of standard English capitalization rules (off the top of my head):

  1. Capitalize proper nouns: towns, people's names, cities in Saudi Arabia, etc.
  2. Do not capitalize other nouns. In this case, 'mecca' is a noun meaning 'a bustling, lively center of something' (apologies for my definition, made up on the fly)
  • Like other words generated by capitalised eponyms -and aren't all eponyms capitalised?- I agree it should be lower case. Meaning I'd Boycott the alternative usage. – fortunate1 Feb 11 '11 at 16:05
  • @fortunate1: Or possibly Bowdlerize it to avoid the eponym. – PSU Feb 11 '11 at 18:37
  • 2
    The point of both Mecca and mecca is that it's the object of a pilgrimage. It doesn't matter how busy a place is, it's a mecca if and only if people from other places travel to visit there for that reason. – Malvolio Nov 11 '12 at 19:11

The NOAD uses Mecca in both the cases.

Holland is a Mecca for jazz enthusiasts.

In the Corpus of Contemporary American, you find sentences with Mecca (where the word is used figuratively), and sentences with mecca.

The experience alarmed the city fathers of Appenzell, pop. 5,600, who worried that the town might become a Mecca for the unclad.

The United States has not begun to realize its potential as either an educational or a tourist Mecca.

Miami Beach has always been an international Mecca whose residents are as diverse as the tourists.

Frank Gehry's museum at Bilbao draws millions of people and has changed this industrial Spanish city into a mecca for tourism.

Writing groups are a mecca for aspiring authors and those who want to meet people with similar thought processes.

  • Thanks, but what if it is combined with another word? entertainment Mecca looks strange – The English Chicken Feb 11 '11 at 14:33

It should be capitalised.

Even when used as common nouns, proper nouns should retain their initial upper case.

For instance:

He lost his dreams of an Eldorado/El Dorado.

Just "eldorado" would really look weird.

He played the part of a Maecenas.

Only when the origin as a proper noun is forgotten is it common to find an initial lower case.

Passengers are lining up on the tarmac (Tarmac correct of course).


Bombay is India’s entertainment Mecca


Capitals in both cases, same as in Wendy house, brand names like Elastoplast etc

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