43

A word that starts with a lower-case (lowercase?) letter can be capitalized, but what is the converse action?

Google has only one page in the top results that addresses this and the closest thing to a proposed answer is decapitalize, which trips spell-checkers, so de-capitalize.

  • 1
    In Emacs, the verb is downcase. – Drew Feb 9 '16 at 3:21
  • 1
    I just ran into this today and doing a search found my own question for several years ago. To be clear: majiscule/miniscule, uppercase/lowercase, capital/??? Perhaps lowercase is just the default and did not get its own distinct term. "small letter" is likely a retronym. 🤔 – Synetech Feb 21 at 18:48
35

While I'll caveat that some people aren't fond of it being used as a verb, lowercase is frequently used in the manner you're referring to. For example:

Chicago style is to lowercase all of these. Chicago Manual of Style

or

Lowercase shortened, informal or descriptive names of committees. KU University Style Guide

  • 1
    +1 for verbing caveat. Merriam-Webster says that lowercase was first verbed in 1908; this should surely be considered acceptable by now. – Peter Shor May 6 '12 at 11:59
  • For what it's worth lowercase also exists as a verb in some programming languages, e.g., in Python: "HELLO".lower() (versus "hello".upper()). – lmjohns3 Aug 22 '13 at 0:25
9

The verb is lowercase- defined by Merriam Webster as:

"to print or set in lowercase letters."

  • Be aware that lowercase is used as an adjective here. (I guess it's more like a definition than an example.) – dreua Feb 8 '16 at 14:27
  • @dauer - Thanks I edited to make remove confusion. – Jim Feb 8 '16 at 22:05
4

The standard options are "titlecase," "sentencecase," "uppercase," and "lowercase." Various abbreviations and marks for these are used in proofreading. It's somewhat specialized vocabulary because outside of publishing you rarely have cause to say things like, "this word needs to be lowercased."

  • (Reread the answer and changed my comment) I think you are meaning those four words as verbs, but it is not obvious from your comment. I first read them as descriptions and posted that your answer did nothing to answer the question. – Colin Fine Mar 1 '11 at 12:37
  • 3
    Don't forget `camelCase' – horatio Mar 1 '11 at 17:53
  • 1
    Colin - I work in a publishing house. We say things like, "lowercase that," "titlecase here," etc. As MS Word lists these in its "Change Case" tool, I think of them as written out as single words, but generally we mark them with abbreviations on manuscript, e.g., "l/c" for "lowercase." These can be used as both adjectives and verbs as needed by circumstance. – The Raven Mar 3 '11 at 21:45
4

If being proper / correct is not your greatest concern.. Say you simply wanted your listener to "Re-write this sentence withOUT Capital letters."… I'd wager a bet that asking them to decapitalize it - would give you as good a result - as any.

3

The alphabets may be referred as upper-case and lower-case. Another way to describe it is to say 'majuscule' (majuscular) for upper-case and 'minuscule' (minuscular) for lower-case.

Reference: http://www.synonyms.net/antonyms/majuscule

0

Wiktionary records uncapitalize with usage examples.

Verb
uncapitalize (third-person singular simple present uncapitalizes, present participle uncapitalizing, simple past and past participle uncapitalized)

  • (transitive) To convert the first letter (or more) of (something) from uppercase to lowercase; to make uncapitalized.

    The easy way to uncapitalize text is to highlight it and press Shift+*F3*, — Stanley Zarowin, Journal of Accountancy, A Quick Way to Capitalize and Uncapitalize, 2004

Synonyms

  • decapitalize

I would definitely prefer the prefix un- to de- to avoid any ambiguity. The word decapitalize already exists with a different meaning and usage in a different field.

See also: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/decapitalize

-1

Majuscule/miniscule?

I just tried to write a few example sentences, but I can't make them suggest anything helpfully different to the above...

-1

If a capitalized word is a word whose first letter is in uppercase/majuscule and any following letters are in lowercase/miniscules, then the opposite of that must be a word whose first letter is in lowercase/miniscule and any following letters are in uppercase/majuscules.

We have no term to describe that.

  • “WASHINGTON” is in all uppercase.
  • “washington” is in all lowercase.
  • “Washington” is capitalized.
  • “wASHINGTON” is . . .  in all uppercase save for its first letter, which is in lowercase.

For various reasons, Unicode defines three cases, not two; the third case is called titlecase, and it is specifically designed for the casing of the initial letter in a capitalized word. That is, one with all lowercase letters save the first one. This doesn't make any especial sense in English in a way graphically distinct from an initial-uppercase letter:

  • lowercased: little big horn
  • titlecased: Little Big Horn
  • uppercased: LITTLE BIG HORN

But in other languages and scripts it can make a difference:

  • lowercased: ᾲ στο διάολο
  • titlecased: Ὰͅ Στο Διάολο
  • uppercase: ᾺΙ ΣΤΟ ΔΙΆΟΛΟ

Notice how in the first word (the article), the titlecased version has an iota subscript, but the all-uppercase version has the iota as a capital letter. That is because when converting to all-caps, you have to change the iota from its diacritic form to its letter form. It is unclear how much this really gets used or needed in Greek, but it is in the formal rules. You can see why it doesn’t arise in English.

  • Hehe, very funny. :-P – Synetech Jun 1 '12 at 1:10

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