"...everything in life is writable...if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."..... Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writers ought to know: Is it Titled or Entitled?

If we are referring to the title of a piece of written work, which is it, titled or entitled? I've had several editors and agents tell me to use "titled", as in my book is titled Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen: An Innkeeper's Tale, but I frequently see writers using "entitled" in this case, so I researched it and this is what I found:

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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  1. Great post, and good clarification for fellow writers.

  2. Thanks for the comment and the support. I'ts very much appreciated.I was confused about this myself. I read where many agents are turned off by the use of "entitled" when referring to a book title.

  3. Thanks for the clarification. I always used 'titled' mostly because I am always never 'entitled' to anything :) Will you still be posting excerpts to your book? I always love a good story.

  4. Aidy, Thanks for the comment. Yes, definitely, I will be putting up more exerpts. Thought I'd spread them out a bit though...don't want to run out of exerpts.