Titled vs. entitled?

Titled and entitled are past participles of the verbs title and entitle. Both verbs mean ‘to provide a name or title for something.’

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What is the difference between titled and entitled?

The verb entitle primarily means ‘to give a right, privilege, or title (i.e., authority) to do or receive something.’ For example, authors are entitled to write their own stories, and editors are entitled to provide structural and grammatical edits to those stories.

Of course, the verb entitle can also mean ‘to give a title to something,’ making it synonymous with the verb title: (‘to give a name to’). However, writing style guides like Garner’s Modern English Usage and the online AP Stylebook encourage writers to use entitled to mean “a right to or have something,” and to reserve the verb titled for the sense of ‘providing a title’ (Garner 336). 

With that said, there are interesting arguments for why writers should toss these rules aside. While citing Google Books’ Ngram Viewer, an article in The Washington Post argues how the phrases “a book entitled” and “a book called” have been equally common since the early 20th century. Meanwhile, “a book titled” has remained relatively unpopular since emerging in the late 1930s.  

The bottom line?

English dictionaries define both entitle and title as meaning ‘to give a name for,’ so it’s safe to assume either spelling works. Just keep in mind that “entitled” is also an adjective we use to describe snobby, self-important people, so readers might find themselves scratching their heads when the verb replaces “titled.”

What does titled mean?

Titled is the past participle of the verb title, which means ‘to provide a name or title for something’ or ‘to designate or call by a title.’ 

Sentence examples:

  • “I am looking for a Picasso painting titled The Old Guitarist.”
  • “Students read the book titled Gone with the Wind.”
  • “What is the series titled, again?”
  • “The star’s new album is self-titled.”

Synonyms

Baptize, brand, call, christen, denote, denominate, designate, dub, entitle, label, name, nickname, nominate, style, specify, tag, term.

Title as a noun and adjective

The noun title references the name of a book, composition, job role, status, or even a property deed (such as that of a house, car, or piece of land). 

Sentence examples: 

  • “Let’s help the kids brainstorm a good book title.” 
  • “Do you know the title of the movie?” 
  • “One day, he will achieve an honorary title.”
  • “Not all doctors hold the title of MD or Ph.D.”
  • “The DMV needs to verify your car title.”
  • “Muhammad Ali reclaimed two heavyweight titles during the 1970s.”

Meanwhile, the adjective title (or titled) relates an object to a particular title. For example, 

  • “Chuck Liddell is fighting in yet another title match.”
  • “Jon is playing the title role in Macbeth.”
  • “Can you Shazam the title music from American Beauty for me?”
  • “A titled lady is one with honor.”

Synonyms

Byname, designation, label, name, nickname, offering, office, position, publication, rank, status, subtitle, tag, work. 

What does entitled mean?

Entitled is the past tense form of the transitive verb entitle. As noted by the New Oxford American Dictionary, the verb primarily means “to give someone the legal right or just claim to do or receive something” (“Entitle” 579). 

Sentence examples: 

  • “The principal’s job entitled her to observe our lecture on Huckleberry Finn.”
  • “According to our family lawyer, the grandchildren are legally entitled to 40% of our parent’s estate.”
  • “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

Alternatively, English speakers can use the verb entitle for the act of ‘providing a title for a text, work of art,’ or even ‘one’s rank, position, or character’ (579).

Sentence examples: 

  • “Is the script entitled yet?”
  • “We watched a movie entitled Black Swan.”
  • “The Queen entitled him Lord of the manor.”

Synonyms

  1. Allow, authorize, approve, empower, enable, endorse, enfranchise, license, permit, privilege, qualify.
  2. Baptize, call, christen, denominate, designate, dub, label, name, nominate, style, term, title.

Entitled as an adjective

The adjective entitled describes someone who believes they are inherently deserving of special treatment, privilege, or the right to something without working for it. 

Sentence examples:

  • “We have no tolerance for rude, entitled behavior.” 
  • “My entitled roommate helped themselves to my freshly baked cookies.”
  • Entitled rulers and politicians often leave shameful legacies.”

Synonyms

Bratty, careless, coddled, demanding, grandfathered in, oblivious, pompous, selfish, self-important, self-righteous, spoiled, ungrateful.

Antonyms

Deserving, grateful, humble, interested, meek, modest, thoughtful, unassuming.

How to use entitled vs. titled in a sentence?

English speakers can use “entitled” and “titled” in many different ways, but the only time we risk confusing the two is when they both mean ‘to give a name to something.’ To get a better idea of how to use them in a sentence, let’s look at how professional writers incorporated them into recent articles. 

Published examples of “titled

  • Titled “Rembrandt to Richter,” this historical mash-up was technically the first major live offering in London since the coronavirus lockdown.” — The New York Times
  • “When Chance the Rapper wore Sheila Rashid’s signature denim overalls to the VMAs in 2016, he instantly put her self-titled fashion label on the map.” — Vogue
  • “Originally written in French and titled Comment Dire, the poem grapples with the struggle to express oneself.” — The Irish Times

Published examples of “entitled”</h3>

  • “The first section, entitled “Ma,” introduces us to the unhappy and divided Swart clan.” — The New Yorker
  • “And on Thursday, in celebration of Jackie Robinson Day, the painting, entitled “Grace,” was unveiled at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.” — Los Angeles Times
  • “The chapter was entitled ‘Year of the Cat’—the Vietnamese zodiac name for 1975.” — The Wall Street Journal

FAQ: Related to titled vs. entitled

Where do the verbs title and entitle come from?

The words title and entitle share similar definitions because they both stem from Anglo-French and Latin roots. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the noun title stems from Latin titulus (‘inscription, title’), where it eventually translates to Old French title and Old English titul

The verb title appears after the noun during the 14th century to mean ‘to name’ or ‘to provide a title.’ Meanwhile, the verb entitle entered the English language during Late Middle English (15th–16th century) from Old French via Latin intitulare (in- + titulus). 

Is there a difference between titled and entitled for British English and American English?

If we compare regional dictionary definitions for title and entitle, it’s apparent that there’s no difference in usage. According to the Cambridge Dictionary (British English), entitled essentially means ‘to allow’ or ‘give title,’ while title means ‘to name.’ 

The same is true of The American Heritage Dictionary (American English), which defines entitled as “to give a name to” or “to furnish,” and lists titled as “to give a name or title to.”

Additional reading

For more grammar and writing tips from The Word Counter, check out the following grammar lessons:

Test Yourself!

Test how well you understand the difference between titled and entitled with the following multiple-choice questions. 

  1. True or false?: Titled and entitled have different meanings in England and the US.
    a. True
    b. False
  2. Usage guides often advise writers to use ____________ over ____________ for the act of ‘giving a name.’
    a. Title, entitle
    b. Entitle, title
    c. Titled, entitled
    d. A and C
  3. The word title is not a ____________. 
    a. Adjective
    b. Noun
    c. Prefix
    d. Verb
  4. The words entitle and title both reference ____________.
    a. The act of giving a name
    b. The title of a book
    c. A sense of entitlement
    d. A and B
  5. Which of the following terms are not synonymous with the adjective entitled?
    a. Privilege 
    b. Self-importance
    c. Humble
    d. Spoiled

Answers

  1. B
  2. D
  3. C
  4. D
  5. C

Sources

  1. Entitle.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2021. 
  2. Entitle.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  3. Entitle.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  4. Entitled.” The Associated Press Stylebook, The Associated Press, 2021.
  5. Entitled.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  6. Garner, B. “Entitle; title.” Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 336. 
  7. Harris, J. “How a broken painting captured Jackie Robinson’s unbreakable spirit.” Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, 16 Apr 2021. 
  8. Harper, D. “Entitlement.” Online Etymology Dictionary, etymonline.com, 2021. 
  9. Myers, M. “How Bob Dylan and a Bogart Movie Inspired Al Stewart’s ‘Year of the Cat.’” The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com, 9 Apr 2021. 
  10. Nnadi, C. “The Mid-West.” Vogue, vogue.com, 14 Jan 2021.
  11. O’Connor, A. “Pan Pan Theatre captures echo of Beckett’s poetry.” The Irish Times, irishtimes.com, 29 Sep 2020.
  12. Reyburn, S. “Banksy and Rembrandt Boost Sotheby’s Sale to $192.7 Million.” The New York Times, nytimes.com, 28 Jul 2020. 
  13. Title.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2021. 
  14. Title.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  15. Title.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2021.
  16. Title.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2021.
  17. Volokh, E. “‘Entitled’ meaning ‘having the title.'” The Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, 24 Mar 2014.
  18. Wood, J. “A Family at Odds Reveals a Nation in the Throes.” The New Yorker, newyorker.com, 12 Apr 2021.