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I'm editing a short story (for context, the author is English, living permanently in Australia, and aiming for publication in the USA). In one scene the main character says something like: "We couldn't stay here: security would throw us out." Would the word "security", as a department, in this case be capitalized here as "Security"?

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  • I'd probably capitalize, to indicate that it refers to the "security department" rather than, say, checks performed by your web browser.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 24, 2020 at 17:35

3 Answers 3

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In general the rule is that capitalize a word if it is a name. If the group that does the throwing has the name "Security" then capitalize.

Here it seems likely the people speaking don't know the formal name of the group, so it is not possible to make a definite decision. But capitalizing has the advantage that there is no possible confusion with other meanings of the noun "security".

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  • +1, but I still have doubts about capitalisation. To me, that seems to represent some kind of power-hungry, gun-wielding, dystopian, unfriendly agency. In particular, I would mentally connect it to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicherheitsdienst. Capitalising would make the reader focus on the relevance of the Security in the throwing out, whereas not capitalising would keep the focus on just being thrown out.
    – Řídící
    Oct 25, 2020 at 7:35
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I would say yes, as security feels to general, whereas as you said, Security would highlight that it's a specific department, with a name.

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Nope.

You'll need to notify security if you want to work late in the office.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/security

Also:

security department - a department responsible for the security of the institution's property and workers; "the head of security was a former policeman"

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/security+department

If the security department has the (well-known) name Security Department or Security then capitalising Security would be fine. Otherwise, I don't see why you would need to consider it, given the above. The word security is the general term for any such departments/staff/etc.

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  • The double downvote was rather harsh. It's probably because you don't allow for the capitalised option (note that 'Parliament' would be capitalised if speaking about the actual existing members as a group). Note that IMSA say capitalise: 'The Security Department at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. The Security Officers on duty can be reached at all times by several methods. ... you will use one of the following methods to contact Security.' Oct 24, 2020 at 18:09
  • Thanks, everyone. I went with lower case, but it's great to read the reasoning behind the responses. Now it's just up to the author to approve my changes.
    – Noel
    Oct 25, 2020 at 22:05

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