Titled versus Entitled

By Daniel Scocco

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Another day I was browsing around the Internet and I came across this sentence:

You might want to check out this great article that I found; it is entitled “bla bla bla.”

But was the article really entitled?

There is a common confusion between the words titled and entitled. Titled would have been the correct adjective for that sentence. If something is “titled” it means that it received such a title, either by the author or by someone else.

Entitled, on the other hand, means that a person has rights to something. If you are entitled to a house, for instance, it means that the law protects your right to own that house.

Some dictionaries propose that “to entitle” can also mean “to give a title.” I have rarely seen mainstream publications back up such usage, however. Below you will find two quotations from The Economist illustrating the point.

A visit to Canada’s web-site where the Federal Government describes itself to the world, particularly the section titled “Powers of National and Provincial Governments, as written by the late Honourable Eugene A. (The Economist)

The largesse has not been restricted to poor children. Since 1998 all pre-schoolers have been entitled to some free nursery care once they turn four, and in 2004 that entitlement was extended to three-year-olds. (The Economist)

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51 Responses to “Titled versus Entitled”

  • Allen Garvin

    That’s the original meaning of the word, 700 years old. OED definition 1, transitive, to furnish (a literary work, a chapter, etc.) with a heading or superscription. … To give to (a book, etc) a designation by which it is to be cited, or which indicates the nature of its contents.

    It’s not marked obsolete or non-standard, either. It’s been in use since Chaucer. Literally, the first citation is Chaucer “This booke entitled was right thus Tullius of the dreame of Scipion.”

    A few other examples from my personal corpus of ebooks:

    Izaak Walton, Lives of Donne, etc: … is well known as the author of the tract entitled, “Europae Speculum”…

    Jonathan Swift, The Journal to Stella: …a Pamphlet entitled, A Letter to the Seven Lords of the Committee…

    Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: The first composition that was read was one entitled “Is this, then, Life?”

    Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe: the Reverend Charles Henry Hartsborne, M.A., editor of a very curious volume, entitled “Ancient Metrical Tales”…

    Alexander Pope, Essays on Criticism: …written by a notorious quack mad-doctor of the day, entitled “The Narrative of Dr. Robert Norri”…

    Herman Melville, Moby Dick: … took out a bundle of tracts, and selecting one entitled “The Latter Day Coming”…

    James Boswell, Life of Johnson: …it came out on the same morning with Pope’s satire, entitled ‘1738’…

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