You’re Entitled to Write a Title, Not an Entitle

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Language Lessons. ... Image via Wikipedia

If you’re thoroughly confused after reading the title of this post, good: Confusion breeds questions, and questions lead to answers. So what’s this post about? I guess you’re entitled to an answer.

The word “entitle” has multiple meanings, one of which occurs in the previous paragraph: having the right to something; having proper grounds for seeking or claiming something. When, however, we’re talking about titles—the names of various works—”entitle” is often confused with “title,” and you end up having someone write something like this: “Jason Drexler’s new book is entitled Read This.” The confusion is understandable, given the high degree of similarity between the two words, but there is a difference.

When you’re talking about naming something, such as a book, movie, or short story, “entitle” means “to give title to,” whereas “title” (as a verb) means “to call by a title (or name).” The distinction is subtle, so here’s an example to help flesh it out:

Last week, Jason Drexler finally entitled his latest, soon-to-be-published work.

Drexler’s latest novel, titled “Crazy About the Sox,” will be released in May.

So, if you’re going through the more general process of giving something a title, you’re entitling it, whereas the precise name you give it is what you’ve titled it (the specific title you’ve given to it). Hope that helps.

Class dismissed. =)

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