Recently, there has been a lot of talk about people that own millions or billions of dollars: their name appears when mentioning CEOs, when talking about the stock market, in essays about “the one percent”…
So, after seeing the words “billionaire” or “millionaire” around so much you might be wondering if its first letter should be capitalized.
Are the Words Billionaire or Millionaire Capitalized?
The answer is no. You don’t need to capitalize the “b” in billionaire or “m” in millionaire. Here is why: according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a billionaire is someone who owns a billion dollars and a millionaire is someone who owns a million dollars. These words are, therefore, nouns.
Of course, this doesn’t include the situation wherein the word “billionaire” is the first word of the sentence at hand because if this is the case, then “billionaire” does in fact need to be capitalized. The same is true if used in a headline that is capitalized using title case.
Nouns of professions (which, making some leaps of logic, we can include billionaire in) are not capitalized: lawyer, doctor, electrician…
Some other professional categories that demand respect can be capitalized when combined with a name, such as nobiliary titles or political positions: Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.
However, “billionaire” and “millionaire” are not considered titles: do not capitalize them, even if they appear right next to a name: e.g., billionaire Elon Musk.
More concretely, the words “billionaire” and “millionaire” are common nouns and not proper nouns. In the English language, the general rule is that common nouns, in comparison to proper nouns, don’t need to be capitalized.
To make this less abstract, here’s an example of the word “billionaire” being used in a sentence: “He became a billionaire at the young age of 30.” As you can see, “billionaire” isn’t capitalized in this sentence because again, it’s just an example of a common noun.