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lower case
Definition:

In the printed alphabet, small letters (a,b,c . . .) as distinguished from capital letters (A,B,C . . . ).

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Originally, lower case letters stood by themselves. Their forms derived from the penned Carolingian minuscule. The upper and lower case letters received their present form in the Renaissance. The serifs of the capitals, or upper case letters, were adapted to those of the lower case alphabet. The capitals are based on an incised or chiseled letter; the lower case characters are based on a pen-written calligraphic form. Now the two kinds of letters appear together."
    (Jan Tschichold, Treasury of Alphabets and Lettering. Norton, 1995)


  • "Upper and lower case? The term comes from the position of the loose metal or wooden letters laid in front of the traditional compositor's hands before they were used to form a word--the commonly used ones on an accessible lower level, the capitals above them, waiting their turn. Even with this distinction, the compositor would still have to 'mind their ps and qs,' so alike were they when each letter was dismantled from a block of type and then tossed back into the compartments of a tray."
    (Simon Garfield, "True to Type: How We Fell in Love With Our Letters." The Observer, Oct. 17, 2010)


  • "The dropping of the capital letter of the trademark is one piece of certain evidence that the trademark has indeed become generic. . . .

    "The OED [Oxford English Dictionary] lists 'XEROX' both as capitalized, and in lower case, as well as a trademark and generic term: 'a proprietary name for photocopiers . . . also used loosely to denote any photocopy' (20: 676). This definition points out clearly that 'xerox,' either capitalized or in lower case, is used throughout the population as both a proper adjective and as a noun."
    (Shawn M. Clankie, "Brand Name Use in Creative Writing: Genericide or Language Right?" in Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World, ed. Lise Buranen and Alice M. Roy. SUNY Press, 1999)


  • "A good rule to follow is that most trademarks are adjectives, not nouns or verbs. Use trademarks as modifiers as in 'Kleenex tissues' or 'Xerox copiers.' Similarly, trademarks are not verbs--you can copy on a Xerox machine, but you cannot 'xerox' anything."
    (Jill B. Treadwell, Public Relations Writing. Sage, 2005)
Pronunciation: lo-er-KAS
Also Known As: minuscule
Alternate Spellings: lowercase, lower-case
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