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October 17, 2007

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Robin Yim

My OED contains, as one of the definition of entitle, the meaning of giving something a particular name.

I don't think this is an error, myself. But, then, who am I?

Robin

Lynn

Hi, Robin. I agree with you that the use of "entitle" as we discussed is not an error. But I have decided to use the word "titled" since all reference books apparently view it as correct.

Thanks for sharing your library!

Lynn

John

I actually agree with the business folks.

I often explain to my students that we might be entitled to something but inanimate objects are not.

Thus, I title a book; it's not entitled to anything.

Lynn

John, I like your explanation! Thanks for sharing it.

Lynn

Ron Webb

Thanks for your advice on this, Lynn! I was editing a document written by someone else, and was about to change his word "titled" to "entitled", but your observation regarding common usage has dissuaded me.

However, I would like to offer a brief defense of "entitled" in the sense of "given the title of", even though I recognize that it is a lost cause.

The prefix "en-" is commonly used in many other words (e.g. "enthrone", "enshrine", "entrap") meaning "to make", "to cause to be", to put into", etc. It seems to me that "entitle" is in good company.

I also think there is an important distinction between its usage as conferring rights versus giving a title. In the former sense it seems to me that the verb is used intransitively, whereas the latter is transitive. (I can't find a single dictionary that agrees with me about this, but I'm sticking to my guns!)

For example: in the sentence "The book is entitled 'War and Peace'," the object of the verb is "'War and Peace'". In contrast, the sentence "The book is entitled to be considered a classic," I don't see any clear object.

On the other hand, English loves to use nouns as verbs. We don't "encolour" something, we just colour it. So I guess I can get used to titling a book rather than entitling it.

Lynn

Hi, Ron. Thanks for your detailed, gutsy views on the subject.

I am having a tough time dropping "entitled" in the published sense from my vocabulary. I guess I spent too many years writing "The book is entitled." However, I keep reminding myself, and I am sure I will break the habit soon.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Lynn

James Redford

"Entitle" is the verb form of "title."

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, James. Yes, "entitle" is a verb form. But according to my dictionary, "title" is the verb form of "title."

Lynn

Terry

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says your prior usage was just fine. If it is good enough for OED, it's good enough for me.

Ditto for Webster's.

It might be well to defer to OED and Webster's over a bunch of style manuals, and "corporate communicators" or other business folk. When did such people become authorities on the English language?

The AP manual? Puh-leeeze. Is it not true that such a manual would likely be geared toward saving ink, where paper and ink are more relevant, like in the business of producing and transporting newspapers? Maybe lopping the EN off the front of a word like "entitled" and cutting off syllables elsewhere would make sense in that world, if only to save paper and ink over time.

It really seems like a toh-may-toh toh-mah-toh sort of distinction.

Here are a couple of cites to sites:
OED --- http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50076257/50076257se2?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=entitled&first=1&max_to_show=10&hilite=50076257se2

Webster---
http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/Entitled

It is a tad appalling that you would so easily cave, my dear.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Terry. Thank you for taking the time to write.

We all need to use the references that suit our occupations and employers. Most corporate communicators use "AP" (not the "OED"), and I am happy to side with "AP" whenever I can. I don't consider it caving.

Lynn

Tom

I'd be more likely to base grammatical/usage decisions on a revered style manual (AP, New York Times, etc.) than on a dictionary, because dictionaries are mirrors of common usage. If enough people referred to a leg as a "fartlik", for instance, rest assured that there would soon be an entry for "fartlik" in dictionaries. This would be absurd, of course. But dictionaries don't care -- they are mirrors and, as such, display both correct and incorrect usage. Since it seems plenty of people still use "entitled" in the construction listed in the introductory post, dictionaries (generally) follow suit.

That is why, in my opinion, grammar texts and usage manuals are superior -- they give their opinions on what is correct. They name the best (or better) option. They do not espouse incorrect usage, even if said incorrect usage is rampant in the English-speaking world.

And in this case, "titled" is the better option. "Entitled" is used correctly like this: "Tom felt that he was entitled to the last piece of pizza."

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, Tom. I laughed heartily at your apt "fartik" example.

Lynn

Tom

Thank you! Now let's begin obliterating the bad habit of combining singular subject and plural pronoun (like "everyone and their"); placing apostrophes in non-possessive nouns, except when the apostrophe is used to signify an abbreviation; and the use of "irregardless", which is a logical absurdity... etc.

... so many usage rules, so little time to enforce them. hehe

:-)

I wish I went to grammer school

Irregardless of your comments, everyone and their dog's know that we are entitled to our own opinions. Thanks for all the insight everyone; titled sounded better to me and after reading through this I will be sticking with titled. Entitled, when used to reference the title of something seems a little pretentious.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Tom, belated thanks for commenting. I believe the commenter after you is teasing us.

Irregardless? Dog's? Grammer? I believe the joke is on us.

Lynn

Jillian

In academic works, it is fine to use the term "entitled." I agree with Lynn that one ought to gear one's usage to the conventions of their specific target demographic. If your target audience is academics and intellectuals, entitled will do as well or better than titled. Do I really need to cite all the examples?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Jillian. Thanks for writing.

No, you don't need to cite all the examples. But examples do convince people that one's views are supported by respected publications. I myself was surprised that certain style guides condemned my use of "entitled."

Lynn

Patricia Deane

It's very simple: "entitled" is UK English; "titled" is American English. I'm Irish, but I have been using "entitled" for the past 50 years or so, and was quite shocked the first time I encountered "titled".

Brian

I believe that when someone is naming their work, entitled is fine. "Mary entitled her paper "The Fall of Rome." However, when someone is referring to a work that already has a title, then 'titled' should be used. "Mary was quoting from a paper titled "The Fall of Rome."

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Brian. I try to use respected style guides when I discuss issues in grammar and usage. Do you have a style manual that agrees with your preferences?

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Lynn

Cal

Entitle is to give title to.
So, technically both are correct.

Why? Well it's true that "XXXX" was the title that was given to it by someone.
In general, "XXXX" is also the title.

So if a book is entitled "XXXX" it is also titled "XXXX". Title = the name. Entitled = the name that it was given.

So, technically both are correct. I think anyone who says it's incorrect is incorrect. It may be semantics, but it has to be correct based on the definitions.

Even though some mean to say that the name is "The Three Bears". To say it is entitled "The Three Bears" means that the title that the author gave it is The Three Bears.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Cal, thanks for your views.

Lynn

brenda

Am I the only one here that doesn't see the "original" mistake of the lesson NOT as a mistake? If she had quoted a sentence, then the period should fall within the quotations. But she was quoting a title. Therefore, the period should end her sentence, which would be outside the quotations. Anyone???????

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Brenda. In the United States, virtually all style manuals place periods and commas inside closing quotation marks. Check the style manual you use, and see what it recommends.

Lynn

Sandra Philbrook

Thank you for the clarification. I totally agree with your deduction.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Glad to be helpful, Sandra.

Lynn

rob

Here's a pretty thorough argument against the ban on "entitled."

http://www.copyediting.com/entitling-editors-use-titled

QDT's Grammar Girl agrees, though suggests both words can often be avoided.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks for the link, Rob. I was glad to see the view of the University of Chicago Press that "entitled" is fine. "The Chicago Manual of Style" does not comment on the usage.

I am still going to avoid "entitled" in the context I discussed above. Too many people think it's wrong, even if it is a "zombie rule," as your source suggests.

However, I will not change someone else's work--following the important point your source was making.

Lynn

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