Commonly Misused Words: Colonial

November 24, 2005: Issue 115

Capitalize colonial when it refers to a specific era in U.S. history or a style associated with that era:

This New England holiday tradition dates back to Colonial times.
She appreciates Colonial furniture for its graceful, simple lines.

When you’re talking about other countries, capitalize colonial in reference to a specific style but not in generic uses:

The design was influenced by British Colonial architecture.
The motif became popular when India was under British colonial rule.

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