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Do You Capitalize “God”?

What about “godly” and “he” when it refers to a deity?

By
Mignon Fogarty,
April 21, 2011
Episode #272

Page 1 of 3

Passover started on Tuesday and Easter is on Sunday. Since this is a week when many readers will be celebrating religious holidays, it seems like a good time to answer questions about religious words.

Do You Capitalize the Word "God"?

One of the most common questions people ask about religious words is whether to capitalize the word “god.” The name of any specific deity is capitalized just like capitalize godany other name, so when “God” is used to refer to “the one God,” (in other words, in any monotheistic religion) it is capitalized. 

For example, you’d capitalize “God” in this sentence:

  • Some Christians give thanks to God before every meal.

When referring to gods in general, however, or using the word "god" descriptively, keep it lowercase:
 

  • The Romans believed a god named Jupiter ruled the heavens.

  • The Greek gods were always causing trouble for humans.

The same rule holds true for Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, and the names of gods in other religions. They are capitalized.

Why Do Jewish People Write “G-d”?

When "God" is a name, it is capitalized.

An interesting side note about the names of gods is that it’s Jewish tradition to avoid writing the name of God because doing so creates a chance that the name could be treated disrespectfully. For this reason, it is common in Jewish documents to see the name written “G-d.” 

That’s a simplistic explanation of Jewish religious philosophy, but at least now if you see “G-d,” you’ll have an inkling of an idea why it’s written that way. You can read more about the Jewish tradition here and here.

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