The Grammarphobia Blog

Is it “titled” or “entitled”?

Q: What’s the current thinking on using “entitled” to refer to the title of a piece of written work? I’ve seen “entitled” used constantly, but I was taught that books are not entitled to anything. Shouldn’t it be “titled”?

A: Both “entitle” and “title” can refer to the title of a written work, but the two words are used in different ways, according to Garner’s Modern American Usage.

When the word you want is a past-participial adjective, “entitled” is preferred: “Margaret Mitchell wrote a book entitled Gone with the Wind.” Citations in the Oxford English Dictionary show that this usage has been common since Chaucer’s day.

When the word you’re looking for is a transitive verb, “titled” is preferred: “Margaret Mitchell titled her book Gone with the Wind.” This usage is also very old and dates from the 14th century, according to the OED.

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