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Keystone vs. Capstone: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A keystone is the central, topmost stone in an arch, locking the other stones in place, while a capstone is the top stone of a structure, signifying completion.
Keystone vs. Capstone

Key Differences

A keystone is crucial for the stability and integrity of an arch, serving as the central, apex stone, whereas a capstone is typically the final stone or brick laid on top of a wall or building, symbolizing its completion.
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In architecture, the keystone is placed at the summit of an arch, locking all the other stones into position, while a capstone is often used as a decorative or commemorative element at the top of a structure.
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The keystone bears the most weight in an arch, making it essential for structural support, in contrast, a capstone, though it can provide stability, is more symbolic of achievement and completion.
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In a broader sense, 'keystone' symbolizes a central component that holds other parts together, while 'capstone' represents a crowning achievement or the culmination of a project.
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The keystone has a distinct architectural shape, often wedge-shaped, crucial for arch integrity, while a capstone can vary in design, often flat and used for inscription or decoration.
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Comparison Chart

Position

Central, topmost stone in an arch.
Top stone of a structure or wall.
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Function

Provides structural support and integrity.
Symbolizes completion and achievement.
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Shape

Typically wedge-shaped for arch support.
Often flat, varies in design.
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Symbolism

Represents crucial, central support.
Represents culmination or crowning achievement.
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Use in Construction

Essential for arch construction.
More decorative or commemorative.
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Keystone and Capstone Definitions

Keystone

Something on which associated things depend for support.
Trust is the keystone of their relationship.
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Capstone

A final touch, a crowning achievement or element.
His latest novel is the capstone of his writing career.
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Keystone

The central, wedge-shaped stone in an arch that holds all other stones in place.
The ancient Roman arch collapsed when its keystone was removed.
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Capstone

The top stone of a structure or wall, often serving a decorative purpose.
The capstone of the monument bore the date of its construction.
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Keystone

The topmost stone of an arch, critical for its stability.
The bridge's keystone was adorned with historical motifs.
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Capstone

Often used metaphorically to denote the high point or crowning achievement.
Graduation was the capstone of her academic journey.
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Keystone

(Architecture) A wedge-shaped stone at the top of an arch, often larger or more ornamented than the other voussoirs. Also called headstone.
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Capstone

A stone or brick used as a finishing touch to a building.
The capstone was engraved with the architect's name.
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Keystone

The central supporting element of a whole.
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Capstone

The stone used to complete a structure, symbolizing its completion.
Placing the capstone marked the end of the building project.
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Keystone

(architecture) The top stone of an arch.
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Capstone

The top stone of a structure or wall.
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Oct 19, 2023

Keystone

Something on which other things depend for support.
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Capstone

The crowning achievement or final stroke; the culmination or acme.
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Keystone

A native or resident of the American state of Pennsylvania.
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Capstone

Any of the stones making up the top layer of a wall; a coping stone.
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Keystone

(retail) A retail price that is double the cost price; a markup of 100%.
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Capstone

(figurative) A crowning achievement, culmination or finishing touch.
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Keystone

(baseball) The combination of the shortstop and second baseman.
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Capstone

(transitive) To complete as a crowning achievement; to top off.
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Keystone

(transitive) To distort (an image) by projecting it onto a surface at an angle, which for example causes a square to look like a trapezoid.
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Capstone

To train in the Capstone Military Leadership Program.
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Keystone

To double the cost price in order to determine the retail price; to apply a markup of 100%.
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Capstone

A fossil echinus of the genus Cannulus; - so called from its supposed resemblance to a cap.
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Keystone

The central or topmost stone of an arch. This in some styles is made different in size from the other voussoirs, or projects, or is decorated with carving. See Illust. of Arch.
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Capstone

A final touch; a crowning achievement; a culmination
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Keystone

A central cohesive source of support and stability;
Faith is his anchor
The keystone of campaign reform was the ban on soft money
He is the linchpin of this firm
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Capstone

A stone that forms the top of wall or building
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Keystone

The central building block at the top of an arch or vault
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Keystone

A crucial or central element of a system or organization.
In ecosystems, wolves are considered a keystone species.
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Keystone

The principal stone at the summit of an arch.
The keystone was intricately carved, highlighting the arch's elegance.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What shapes are common for keystones?

Keystones are typically wedge-shaped to fit at the apex of an arch.
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What is a keystone?

A keystone is the central, topmost stone in an arch, crucial for its structural integrity.
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Can an arch exist without a keystone?

No, a keystone is essential for the stability of an arch.
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What materials are used for keystones?

Keystones can be made from various materials, including stone, concrete, and sometimes metal.
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Is a capstone always decorative?

While often decorative, a capstone can also provide structural stability.
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What is a capstone?

A capstone is the top stone of a structure or wall, often symbolizing its completion.
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Can capstones be flat?

Yes, capstones are often flat and can be used for inscriptions.
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Are keystones purely structural?

Primarily structural, keystones can also have decorative elements.
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How are keystones installed?

Keystones are installed last in arch construction, locking the other stones in place.
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Is the keystone always the largest stone in an arch?

Not necessarily the largest, but it is the most crucial for the arch's stability.
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Are capstones used in modern architecture?

Yes, capstones are still used, often for aesthetic or commemorative purposes.
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Can a keystone be replaced?

Replacing a keystone is challenging and requires careful structural support during the process.
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Does the removal of a keystone affect a structure?

Yes, removing a keystone can lead to the collapse of the arch.
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What symbolizes a capstone?

A capstone symbolizes completion, achievement, and the final touch in construction.
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Do all walls have capstones?

Not all walls have capstones; it depends on the design and purpose of the structure.
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Are capstones unique to certain cultures?

The use of capstones is found in various cultures and architectural styles worldwide.
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Do capstones affect the structural integrity of buildings?

Capstones primarily serve a symbolic or decorative role, but they can also contribute to structural integrity.
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Can capstones bear weight?

While not primarily for bearing weight, capstones can contribute to the overall stability.
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Can capstones have inscriptions?

Yes, capstones often have inscriptions or decorative carvings.
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Do keystones serve a purpose in modern bridges?

In traditional arch bridges, keystones are crucial, but modern construction may use different methods.
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Nov 20, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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