Are "Titled" and “Entitled” Synonyms? The Naughty Grammarian Explans
Taking Tea Ostentatiously
Of elegance and pinky fingers
Miss Grammers always wishes to give the impression that she is an elegant woman.
In order to appear elegant, should Miss Grammers extend her pinky finger into the air when sipping tea from a delicate porcelain cup? Or, were she to do so, would this be seen as an ostentatious display (putting on a show to impress others) that would succeed only in making herself look pretentious (trying to seem more important, successful, cultured than one really is)?
Be patient. Miss Grammers is drawing an analogy. She will soon get to the point.
Are ‘titled’ and “entitled” synonyms?
Miss Grammers would like to say that “titled” and “entitled” are synonyms. She would like to say that ‘entitled” is just a more elegant way of saying “titled,” kind of like lifting one’s pinky finer into the air when sipping tea.
Alas, Miss Grammers cannot say that the two words are synonyms. She would be wrong if she said that "titled" and “entitled” are synonyms.
Miss Grammers thought this would be an easy question to answer. It is actually quite tricky. The two words may be both correct and incorrect depending on the context.
Titled vs. Entitled
The simple answer
When Miss Grammers wishes to refer to a work by naming it, which of the following should she say?
The new book, titled "Love’s True Desire," is a bestseller.
The new book, entitled "Love’s True Desire," is a best seller.
Actually, the best choice is neither. Miss Grammers should keep it simple and say the following:
The new book, "Love’s True Desire," is a best seller.
There is no need to say that "Love's True Desire" is the title. It is obvious that "Love's True Desire" is the title.
When to use “titled”
“Title” is a noun. It most commonly means the name of something. It can also be used as a verb. If something is “titled,” it is named. Consequently, it would not be incorrect to say; Using the word "titled" in the sentence below is not wrong,it is just unnecessary.
The new book, titled "Love’s True Desire," is a bestseller.
The new book, "Love’s True Desire," is a bestseller.
When to use “entitled”
"Entitled” can be used to mean to bestow a name upon something. “Miss Grammers has entitled her new book, Love’s True Desire.” However this is not exactly the same things as saying “The book is entitled "Love”s True Desire.”
“Entitled” also has other meanings. It can mean “deserving” or “having a right to” as in “Miss Grammers is entitled to be proud of her new book,"Love’s True Desire.”
It can also mean that a person has been given a title, such as a royal title. “The critics entitled Miss Grammars ‘The Queen of Romance Novelists.”
The final answer
Don’t precede the name of a book, song, movie, piece of art, etc, with either “titled” or “entitled." Just state the name.
If you must indicate that you are citing the name of the work, “titled” is the preferred usage.
A word about common usage
You may find that some grammarians or dictionaries say that “titled’ and “entitled” can be used interchangeably because the usage of “entitled” to mean “titled” has become common usage.
Miss Grammers does not wish to be common. Nor pretentious. She will use “titled.”
There are two camps of grammarians. The "presciptivists" who prefer to follow the established rules and the "descriptivists" who believe one must yield to common usage. Miss Grammers prefers to play it safe and follow the prescriptivists.
Miss Grammers has prepared this slightly naughty quiz so you may test your knowledge of this lesson.
view quiz statistics
Love's True Desire
How to choose a title
As long as we are on the subject of titles, Miss Grammers would like to provide a little advice on the choosing of titles for one’s work. Titles should be provocative, easy to remember, and appropriate.
You may choose a “working title” when you begin to write. Do not cast that title in stone--a final title cannot be chosen until the work is complete. A writer often finds that the work can go in an unintended direction.
When Miss Grammers advises a provocative title, she does mean sexually provocative (although sexually provocative has its place.) Miss Grammers means the title should provoke interest; it should not be dull. The title should be “catchy.” If Miss Grammers titled her book “True Love,” would anyone give it a second look? The phrase is trite.
It is Miss Grammers' hope that "Love's True Desire" will arouse a potential reader to want to know more. Miss Grammers also chose a sexually provocative title in the hope that it would make the pulse beat a bit faster.
Miss Grammers titled this piece: Are “Titled“ and “Entitled” Synonyms: The Naughty Grammarian Explains"? "The Naughty Grammarian" is an unusual phrase, a play on words, and it is meant to grab the reader’s attention. The rirle begins with a question. Non-fiction titles frequently ask a question because it engages the reader—when people see a question they naturally want to know the answer.
If you want your title to be easy to remember, make it short. The current trend in titles, especially for non-fiction) is to have a short title, followed by a colon, and then a longer title that gives some detail as to the topic of the book. For instance, if Miss Grammers’ book was a scholarly work, it might be titled: "Love’s True Desire: "The Relationship between Love and Sexual Desire". For a work of fiction, "Love's True Desire" will suffice.
An appropriate title is one that gives some information about the topic, the genre, and the tone. For instance, "Loves True Desire": suggests an erotic romance novel–a love story with some steamy scenes. Miss Grammers is aware that the title might also suggest that the novel might be a parody of a romance novel since "Love's True Desire" is a “bit over the top.” (The cover copy or a subtitle would have to clarify the genre.) However, a reader is unlikely to be happy to discover that "Love's True Desire" is a text book about the reproductive habits of turtle doves.
A word about Miss Grammers
Miss Grammers has a mission. She wishes to rid the English-speaking world of incorrect usage. Frankly, it grates upon her ears. But more importantly, the improper use of words leads to improper communication and misunderstanding. If there is anything this word leads less of, it is misunderstanding.
There is a lot of advice out there about grammar. The advice is often confusing and contradictory. It is Miss Grammers special talent, as well as her mission, to make her lessons the clearest and easiest-to-understand lessons to be found anywhere.
Miss Grammers attempts to make her lessons more palatable by using humor as well as a little bit of naughtiness.This makes it more fun for the reader, and truth be told, for Miss Grammers as well.
I hope you enjoy your lessons and learn them well. If not, Miss Grammers will have to make you stay after class.
To The Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writng
Please take this poll.
Do you like Miss Grammers when she is a little bit naughty?
© 2014 Catherine Giordano