->''"The door was the way to... to...''
->''The Door was The Way.''
->''Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to."''
-->--'''The Electric Monk''', ''Literature/DirkGentlysHolisticDetectiveAgency''

One of the hardest parts of making a fantasy or science fiction world can be names. Not just for people, but for metaphysical concepts, alien races or awe-inspiring devices/weapons. When writers don't want to make up a new word, they'll often take a short, evocative term and capitalize it. The practice is still so commonplace that Creator/JRRTolkien (who was a language professor at a respected university) decided to use a trick of combining Capital Letters Are Magic with commonplace words from [[ConLang languages he'd made up for fun in his spare time]] to create all of his fictional-but-now-well-known fantasy names. Here on [[TVTropesWillRuinYourLife this site]] we get a lot of tropes this way as well, such as the TheLoad and TheDragon[[note]](Of course, some of that's due to the wiki software's conventions)[[/note]].

In universe, a character may comment on how they can "hear" the Capital Letters. Of course, this is easily explained as proper nouns have inflections, pauses, and emphasis that normal speech does not.

Ideally, this will give the concept a simple, descriptive name that doesn't sound too dopey. Unfortunately, this can cause [[WhosOnFirst hiccups]] when they want to use the word in its usual sense, and often leads to eye-rolling from jaded fantasy fans.

Alongside ordinary words that take on special new meanings, neologisms are frequently capitalized as well. If fantasy characters talk about smeerps instead of Smeerps, then it may throw the reader off. (Even if these characters are Smeerp farmers who wouldn't think of the animals as "special", and who also ride horses instead of Horses.) Well-established fantasy concepts, such as dragons and vampires, don't get this treatment. It seems that lowercase words feel more orthodox and "official", and it's therefore incorrect for a fictional world to have a "new" one without the characters somehow noticing that something is different.

BrandNamesAreBetter is another example of the effect. After the "magic" has gone away, you get BrandNameTakeover. (The magical new power to copy papers is Xeroxing; years later, the everyday task of copying papers is xeroxing.)

This trope probably originates in the fact that up until sometime around the turn of the nineteenth century it was conventional in English to capitalise '''all''' nouns, much as it still is in German. Hence capitalising random words makes them feel Old and Important.

Compare TheTropeWithoutATitle and WeWillUseWikiWordsInTheFuture (when two or more simple words are used in this way). Contrast CallARabbitASmeerp, which is putting fantastical names to common things. A popular alternative is PhantasySpelling, though such terms are often also capitalized. The most common way to make a name out of it is to [[SpellMyNameWithAThe spell it with a "the"]].


'''Metaphysical Concepts:'''

* [[{{TabletopGame/Exalted}} Essence]]
* [[Franchise/StarWars The Force]]
* [[Literature/TheWheelOfTime The One Power]]
* [[Literature/YoungWizards The Speech, The Powers That Be, The Lone Power]]
* [[Creator/DCComics The Source, The Blue, The Red, and The Green]]
* [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} The Warp]]
* [[Franchise/FinalFantasy The Crystal(s)]]
* [[Anime/GaoGaiGar THE POWER]]
* [[VideoGame/{{Myst}} The Art]]
* [[Literature/HisDarkMaterials Dust]]
* [[VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} The Light]]
* [[Literature/TalesOfTheBranionRealm The Living Flame]]
* [[Franchise/{{Highlander}} The Quickening]]
* [[TabletopGame/InNomine The Symphony]]
* [[Literature/TheBelgariad The Will and The Word]]
* [[Literature/TheBible The Word]], [[Literature/TheBible The LORD]]
* [[Literature/FineStructure The Script]]
* {{God}}
* [[Literature/KeysToTheKingdom Nothing]], as well as [[Literature/TheNeverendingStory The Nothing]]
* [[Literature/RealmOfTheElderlings The Skill]], [[Literature/RealmOfTheElderlings The Wit]]
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Taoism}} The Way]]
* [[Literature/SeekersOfTheSky The Word]]
* [[VideoGame/OracleOfTao The]] [[Literature/TheWordAndTheVoid Void]]
* [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Chaos]].
* [[Literature/TheRithmatist The Master]]


* ''Literature/TheDarkIsRising'': Old Ones. The Light. The Dark.
* The Flood from ''Franchise/{{Halo}}''
** Also the Grunts, Jackals, Drones, Hunters, Engineers, Brutes, Elites, and Prophets, which all have non-English species names anyway[[note]]Unggoy, Kig-Yar, Yanme'e, Mgalekgolo (Lekgolo being colonies not integrated into suits or machines), Huragok, Jiralhanae, Sangheili, and San 'Shyuum if you're curious.[[/note]]
* The Forsaken and the Scourge from ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}}''
* ComicBook/TheEternals from Creator/MarvelComics
* The Neverborn and the Primordials from ''{{TabletopGame/Exalted}}'', as well as the eponymous Exalted. Lunar and Solar castes also get a rather negative form of this treatment from the Immaculate Order, with titles such as the Deceivers, the Blasphemous, the Frenzied, etc...
* OlderThanPrint: TheFairFolk being from medieval European folklore.
* Gregory Maguire's ''Literature/{{Wicked}}'' makes an important distinction between animals and [[FunnyAnimal Animals]].
** Likewise, capitalization serves to distinguish sentient hominids of Literature/{{Ringworld}}, such as Hanging People or Grass Giants, from non-sentient ones such as vampires. Subverted in that, while this convention is used in the (English) text of the last two novels, it's stated in-character that the trade-language of Ringworlders actually uses a ''prefix'' to tell them apart.
* The [[FishPeople Forevers]] from Music/{{Ayreon}}
* [[FallenAngel The Fallen]]
* [[OurAngelsAreDifferent The Thrones, the Dominions, the Powers, the Virtues]]
* [[PowersThatBe The Powers That Be]]
* [[Webcomic/{{Nodwick}} The Powers What Is]]
* ''Literature/KeysToTheKingdom'' has a lot of these: Denizens, Nithlings, Piper's Children, etc.
* [[Webcomic/DanAndMabsFurryAdventures DMFA]] has [[{{Muggles}} Beings]], with sapient non-Being creatures being Creatures.
* [[ComicBook/TheSandman The Endless]]
* And, in possibly the least creative example ever: [[Literature/WorldWar The Race]].
* [[Literature/TheSeventhTower The Chosen]]
* Originally, [[Franchise/StarCraft the Zerg and the Protoss]], although they were knocked down to lowercase letters later on, because real-life species names aren't capitalized.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'': not most species, but the Protheans, the Collectors, and ''especially'' [[AC:the Reapers]].
* [[HumanoidAbomination The Others]] from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. Renamed the White Walkers for [[Series/GameOfThrones the live action adaptation]], presumably because they didn't think this trope would come across as clearly in speech.
* [[Franchise/CthulhuMythos The Great Old Ones, the Outer Gods, the Elder Gods and the Elder Things]]
* [[BornAgainImmortality Immortals]] and [[WasOnceAMan Aber]][[ActuallyNotAVampire rations]] from ''WebComic/ElGoonishShive''.
* [[Series/BabylonFive The Shadows]]
* ''Literature/TheCasterChronicles'': Caster, Mortal, Incubus, Dark, Light, Claimed...
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': Ryshadim, Parshendi. Interestingly, the parshmen (mindless Parshendi, essentially) are not capitalized.
* By tradition, all sapient species in the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse (up to and including Humans, DependingOnTheWriter).
* ''Literature/TheHomewardBounders'' has ''Them'', so dreaded that ''They'' are not only always given a capital letter, ''Their'' pronouns are italicised as well.


* In general, many TabletopGames use capital letters to distinguish rules and mechanics from other text. That is, the difference between "strength", how physically strong your character is, and Strength, the number on your character sheet that represents their strength mechanically.
* White Wolf seems to be in love with this trope, and any RPG they publish will have multiple instances of this. Aside from the ''{{TabletopGame/Exalted}}'' examples already listed above, we have the Beast and Vitae from Vampire, the Wyrm, the Weaver, and the Wyld from Werewolf, the Second Breath and the Wyld again from Exalted, Legend, Fate, Knacks, Birthrights, and Scions from Scion, and numerous other examples.
** Lampshaded in the nWoD ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' rulebook intro:
--->"Note Important Capital Letters. Mages Use Lots Of Capital Letters."
* From a ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' FanFic: "Capital letters were very useful when dealing with Gaara. They helped to distinguish between sand, which got in your shorts, and [[CallingYourAttacks Sand]], [[DishingOutDirt which could kill you.]]"
* ''VideoGame/{{Geneforge}}'': the Shapers create and modify living organisms by Shaping.
* There's actually an American conspiracy theory built around this trope. The United States Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment to it were written and ratified more than seventy-five years apart, during which time the trend towards capitalization of all nouns, regardless of their position in the sentence, fell out of use in UsefulNotes/AmericanEnglish. The theory claims that this change -- specifically, the capitalization of the word "citizen" in the former but not the latter -- was deliberate rather than just AntiquatedLinguistics falling into disuse, and created two separate, legally distinct classes of citizenship. They also make a [[http://activistnyc.wordpress.com/2007/12/24/united-states-corporation-and-the-district-of-columbia-organic-act-of-1871-more-anti-banker-misinfo-disinfo/ big deal about the DC Organic Act of 1871]], passed soon after the Fourth Amendment, that reorganized the government of UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC. From there, the theory claims that it's possible to attain "pre-Fourteenth Amendment" citizenship by filing special forms, granting all sorts of unique freedoms to the point of rendering a person a nation unto himself. Naturally, this isn't true; it's simply that in the 1860s and 70s, we had capitalization rules that were more or less the same as those we have today, while in the 1780s, there were no such rules, and English-speakers just put [[Literature/AmericaTheBook Capitals in the Oddest of Places]].
* Relatedly, however: Capitals ''can'' have special meaning in the law...but only when the capitals are assigned to a definition. This is because capital letters are one of a few common methods of indicating that a word being used is supposed to be a proper noun referring to a specific thing, rather than a common noun referring to a class of things. To give some common examples (in America anyway):
** One of the most common uses is in contract drafting, where a lot of terms tend to be defined. For instance: When selling a business set up as a corporation, you can do it in two ways, asset sale and stock sale. In the latter, you just sell the stock; in the former, you sell everything the corporation owns to the buyer, with a few critical exceptions, leaving the corporation as a (hopefully) giant pile of money and not much else (when the sale is done, the owners typically dissolve the corporation and take the money and whatever else remains out in proportion to their shares). The reasons to pick one over the other don't concern us; just suffice it to say that asset sales are much more desirable than stock sales. Unfortunately, an asset sale means you're going to need to actually write a contract selling all this crap, and it would be ''tremendous'' pain to recite every time you referred to it. So instead of saying, say, "all the stuff [=TropeCo=] owns, except for this thing and that thing and the other thing and these things and the painting in the CEO's office" every time you refer to what's being sold, you just have a definitions section in which you say "'Assets' means all the stuff [=TropeCo=] owns, except for this thing and that thing and the other thing and these things and the painting in the CEO's office" and just use "Assets" (with a capital "A") ever afterward. This also means that you can talk about "assets" (with a small "a") in other contexts and be clear.
** Courts are wont to use Magic Capitals as well, generally using them for the same reasons. Classic ones are "Plaintiff" and "Defendant," being used in place of the actual names of the plaintiff and defendant in the case, because (1) people reading at home might forget who sued who and (2) sometimes one or the other has a really long or complicated name (particularly when one, the other, or both is a corporation or government agency). The court will usually also define terms if something it would be useful to have shorthand for will appear often, and use capitals to indicate when a defined term is being used. For instance, if Alice sues the Bureau (a state government agency), Charlie and Donna (employees of the government agency), and Edward (a private contractor doing work for the Bureau), the Court may choose to group the Bureau, Charlie, and Donna as "the State Defendants" because they are the government and they might have different rules apply to them (e.g. sovereign immunity) and might have long sections devoted to what the law is respecting them. Also, the State Defendants (see what we did there?) are almost certainly all represented by the state's Attorney General's office, while Edward will have his own lawyer, so they may make different arguments; that means the court may need to address the State Defendants' arguments and those of Edward separately.
** American lawyers and judges will always capitalize the word "Court" whenever it refers to the [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCourts United States Supreme Court]], even if the full name is not being used. (Example: In ''United States v. Windsor'' [a US Supreme Court case], the Court held..." but "In ''Windsor v. United States'' [a trial court case], the court held..."). They may also capitalize it in reference to their state's highest court, but not always. Also, American lawyers should always capitalize "court" when referring to the court that they are currently litigating in; i.e. if they write a brief in support of a motion, it should always be "Defendants request the Court to do x," etc.
** This habit is dying out a bit, with some courts dropping most of the capitalization, but it persists elsewhere and isn't going anywhere in contract writing.
* Used frequently by Katherine Kurtz in her Literature/{{Deryni}} works to distinguish magically-enhanced things/processes from analogous ordinary ones (healing vs. Healing, veil vs. Veil). Also used in particular phrases coined to describe magical objects and processes, such as Mind Seeing, Truth Reading, Truth Saying, Transfer Portal.
* More 'official' than 'magic, but ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}'', by Creator/NealStephenson, has a passage in which the main character navigated a small island. It is so small, in fact, that there is only one of most things-hence titles such as 'the Car', 'the Street', and 'the Squeegee'.
* AURYN in ''TheNeverendingStory'' is always spelled as such.
* As is CHIM from ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''.
* Creator/TerryPratchett both uses and lampshades this a lot:
** ''Discworld/TheAmazingMauriceAndHisEducatedRodents'': in one header you find out that Mister Bunnsy finds himself in "the Dark Wood".
** In many Witches books, the act of temporarily occupying an animal's brain is called Borrowing.
** [[MurderInc The Assassins' Guild]] takes great pains to distinguish between Assassins and mere ''assassins''. The former are [[ManOfWealthAndTaste members of a classy and highly professional Guild]] with standards to maintain; the latter are "curs who go around murdering people for money."
** Lampshaded in ''The Truth'', in which there's a comment in the narration that it's usually a sign of SanitySlippage when people start thinking in capitals.
** The Smell of [[ThePigpen Foul Ole Ron]] is described as having a personality of its own and fully deserving the capital letter.
** From ''Discworld/{{Eric}}'':
--->''“He didn’t like the sound of Him being back and Him being angry. Whenever something important enough to deserve capital letters was angry in the vicinity of Rincewind, it was usually angry with him.”''
* The Creator/SciFiChannel's miniseries ''Series/TheLostRoom'' is based around a series of about one hundred items called Objects that possess strange properties. Objects featured include The Key, The Pen, The Glass Eye and The Bus Ticket.
* {{Wiki Word}}s.
* ''Literature/KeysToTheKingdom'' again, which has the eponymous Keys, only one of which even resembles a key.
** The Front Door, Nothing, The House, The Will... he murders it.
* The Fence of TheAmoryWars is another name for Heaven, where the Prise hang out (another name for angels).
* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'', there's the Trace (a term which, interestingly, only comes up a good deal ''after'' the concept has been well established). Places can be made Unplottable, words can be Tabooed, and people Stunned. In most cases, though, novel magical concepts/devices will be capitalized ''and'' a made-up word, such as Occlumency (not, say, Clouding). Or a pre-existing word, such as "squib" (a small explosive) or "[[GoldenSnitch snitch]]" (a tattle-tale), will be used in so unrelated a manner that it feels like a made-up word. As is common in other fiction, the capitalization trend doesn't apply when it's something the author didn't invent: wands and dragons versus Time-Turners and Thestrals.\\
Among the everyday (to wizards) terms that are capitalized in ''Harry Potter'': the names of the game Quidditch, all the positions, and all the balls; the names of other games, like Gobstones; the name of every spell and potion; many generic job titles, like "Healer"; subdivisions of people denoting special attributes or abilities, like Parseltongue or Animagus; many plant and animal names; many, many man-made products, like various types of candy (it's usually unclear what's a brand name and what's a generic term -- there seem to be a lot of things in the wizarding world that are [[OnlyShopInTown only made by one company/family/individual]], or at least only one in Britain). The school subjects are also always capitalized, but that's a stylistic choice a writer might make even if they were just Chemistry and Creative Writing instead of Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts.
* The <>, The <>, and to <> in YuriGenre VisualNovel ''VisualNovel/AkaiIto'' and its sort-of sequel ''VisualNovel/AoiShiro''. [[spoiler: The <> [[SubvertedTrope has a proper name]] though, it's [[{{Orochi}} Ame-no-Murakumo]].]]
* Doesn't enter the above category for being a group instead of a race: ''Series/{{Lost}}'' has the Others.
* ''VideoGame/OracleOfTao'' does a combination of science and magic, and pre-existing scientific terms are lowercase while that of Magic are uppercase. A magical portal joining two worlds is a Gate, the world of nonbeing is the Void, and Light and Darkness refer to balance of the two (and since it is Taoism-based, they are normally coupled). Then we have various scientific processes like cloning, which are lowercase for the mundane science, and capitalized for Cloning magic. Likewise, when referring to a light or dark room, these two are lowercase. There seem to [[WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief some inconsistencies in this though]]...
* VideoGame/SupremeCommander has a fictional religion called, "The Way." So does (Gene Roddenberry's) ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'', though it seems like theirs is based on/inspired by Taoism.
* The ''Literature/KnightAndRogueSeries'' has Gifts, which give people the ability to detect potentially dangerous wild magic, as well as a slew of other randomly assorted unreliable abilities such as knowing if your in danger (which can be anything from being stalked to having your aunt trying to arrange your marriage) or taming animals.
* Used quite a bit in the ''Literature/TalesOfTheFiveHundredKingdoms'' series. The Tradition is, like the Force, always capitalized, as are many roles and patterns.
* Storyteller Mark Lewis sometimes remarks that when he first read Literature/WinnieThePooh he noticed that some words were capitalized even though they weren't proper nouns. Much later he asked a British friend why these words were capitalized, and said friend responded "Because they are Important."
* The Franchise/SuperMarioBros powerups are always capitalized. It's not a mushroom, it's a Super Mushroom, it's not a fire flower, it's a Fire Flower, etc.
* ''Blog/{{LIS_DEAD}}'' has a fair list of these, from Him to the Agents of the Organization
* '''Magykal''' words in ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'' are always capitalized.
* "The Change" in ''Literature/TheLastDove'' to refer to the ability of all the characters to shapeshift.
* UsefulNotes/{{Christian|ity}}s, and some editions of Literature/TheBible, often capitalize pronouns that refer to {{God}} or {{Jesus}} to show reverence to Him. Other editions of the Bible drop the practice except to distinguish between God or Jesus and another male character in the same scene.
* The criminal hackers who regularly meet in a MassivelyMultiplayerOnlineRolePlayingGame, in Creator/VernorVinge's novella "Literature/TrueNames", regularly use this in-game for things like True Names (your real-world identity), The Great Enemy (cops), and The True Death (real-world death of a player).
* In ''Literature/{{Interworld}}'', the protagonists can travel through universes. One particular line is "I went for a walk. Then I went for a Walk."
* The short story "It's Such a Beautiful Day", by Creator/IsaacAsimov, involves a teleportation device known as a "Door". This is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d by the mechanic:
-->"That's a door, too, ma'am. You don't give that kind a capital letter when you write it."
* People draw a distinction between ideologies and the political parties that have appropriated the names of the ideologies. For example, there are "small-l libertarians" and "big-L Libertarians".
* "Cheese" in ''Literature/WhoMovedMyCheese'' is written with a capital C when it refers to what the [[{{Lilliputians}} littlepeople]] want in life.
* Whenever there is NoNameGiven, but you still need to refer to a specific character, it's a fairly common practice to simply pick a particularly apt description and capitalize it as a Proper Noun ([[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep Barkeep]], for example), either InUniverse or at least in discussion of the work (or in the credits). Expect this to overlap heavily with ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': Shardblades, Shardplate.
* Creator/VernorVinge's ''Literature/ZonesOfThought'' trilogy features plenty of examples[[note]]some of the most prevalent being the Tines, the Powers, the Emergents and the Emergency, the Spiders, Focus and the Focused, the Children, and of course the Zones themselves, the Slow Zone, the Beyond, and the Transcend[[/note]], but one of the strongest examples in the trilogy occurs when Beyonders trapped in the Slow Zone start referring to it sullenly as "Down Here".
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' fanfic, ''Fanfic/TheLegendOfTotalDramaIsland'', Cody gets "The Mother Of All Wedgies" as opposed to just any old wedgie.
* ''Literature/TheNightLand'' and ''Literature/AwakeInTheNightLand'' capitalizes anything that has to do with the titular Night Land. The adventurers have to get '''P'''repared before going '''O'''ut, and they must take care to not be '''D'''estroyed.
* ''BAD: Or, the Dumbing of America'' by Paul Fussell begins with an explanation of what separates "BAD" things from the merely "bad":
-->Bad is something like dog-do on the sidewalk, or a failing grade, or a case of scarlet fever--something no one ever said was good. BAD is different. It is something phony, clumsy, witless, untalented, vacant, or boring that many Americans can be persuaded it is genuine, graceful, bright, or fascinating. Lawrence Welk is a low example, George Bush a high. For a thing to be really BAD, it must exhibit elements of the pretentious, the overwrought, or the fraudulent. Bathroom faucet handles that cut your fingers are bad. If gold-plated, they are BAD. Dismal food is bad. Dismal food pretentiously served in a restaurant associated with the word ''gourmet'' is BAD.
* The ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'' series uses Capitals frequently to distinguish concepts unique to the titular group from more common definitions. Heralds are not merely royal mouthpieces, but do-anything agents of the Crown. Their Companions are not simply friends or compatriots, but [[CoolHorse equine]] BondCreatures and {{Intellectual Animal}}s, who [[CallToAdventure Choose the Heralds]] for their abilities and IncorruptiblePurePureness, and thereafter call them "Chosen." Their Gifts are not presents or mundane talents, but PsychicPowers. The King (or Queen) and Heir of Valdemar are always referred to as such.