To entitle means to give someone a rank or right, like if your perfect attendance entitles you to free ice cream at lunch. A titleis the name of something, like the title of a song you wrote about ice cream.

Definition:

entitle

Use the verb entitle to mean “give a right to.” At some schools, being a senior might entitle students to go out for lunch on Fridays.

The most common use of entitle is the one you might see on a coupon, like one for a free ride at the state fair that entitles the holder to one free ride on the Octopus of Terror. When you entitle someone, you give them a claim to something, like when you entitle someone the best goalie in Canada, or make someone a member of the noble class, like when the Queen entitles, or gives a title to, a worthy person.

title

A title is typically the official part of your name, placed at the beginning to signify a certain status or function. So, do you prefer “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” “Dr.” or “Ms”? Or perhaps you just go by “Grand Pooh-bah”?

There seem to be as many ways to use the word title as there are titles on a library shelf — because a title is also what you call a book or song or work of art. Titles are even given to statutes and acts of legislature. When you buy a car, you get a title, which is a piece of paper certifying your ownership. And when your favorite team wins the championship? You often say they won the title — and the right to brag.

What about that song — is it entitled or titled “Free Ice Cream at Lunch”? There’s the rub. The short answer: use either one!

Entitle‘s main job is to give you a right, like when you’re entitled to free snacks because you’ve done something to deserve it. If you seem to have to right to everything, you’re just entitled. It also means to give something a title: Your song is entitled “Free Ice Cream at Lunch.” Check it out:

As all art collectors may, Mr. Lauder is entitled to deduct the full market value of artworks donated to museums. (New York Times)

Marjorie Ingall is worried about raising “entitled, bratty, ungrateful little weasels.” (New York Times)

A title is a noun — it’s the name of a book, a movie, or your new hit single about frozen treats. To name such a thing, is to title it, so yes it can also be a verb (hence the confusion). Here are some:

Their report was titled: “Euro zone: Thinking the unthinkable?” (Business Week)

The distributor gave him idiot-proof instructions, such as making sure pages had numbers and the title was on the spine. (Washington Post)

Sticklers want entitle tobe used only in the sense of giving someone a right, not for giving something a name. Bah! As for your song, if you jazz up the title, it might be entitled “Punk Rock Pickle Pink Ice Cream.” Or not. You can get rid of the entitled/titled problem by dropping both and letting the title speak for itself.

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