June 25, 2009

Language Tips: Entitled or titled & ex. or e.g. & sex and gender

Posted in e.g., entitled or titled, ex. or e.g., sex and gender at 7:00 am by dlseltzer

Tip 1: Entitled or titled

The hypotheses for this proposed study are based on data analyses performed and reported in a paper entitled, “Undaunted: Diagnosing disease development in depressed decision-makers.”

You’ve seen it a million times.

Today’s talk, aptly entitled, ”Working Wisely: When words won’t withstand weeding,” sponsored by the Society for Green Growers, will begin at one o’clock.

The book, entitled, ”Lust, Lobsters, and Learning: A legitimate lesson for ladies ,” was, sadly, on no one’s best sellers list.

Using ‘entitled’ instead of ‘titled’ as it is used in these sentences is ubiquitous; however, it is wrong. In the above sentences the paper, the talk, and the book all have titles that should be referred to using ‘titled’ rather than ‘entitled.’

‘Entitled’ means having the right to something:

Patients are entitled to privacy with respect to their medical information.

But a book, a paper, a talk, a song, a journal, or any such thing is not entitled to anything.

If you are the person naming the thing, you have the right to ‘entitle’ it; however, anyone referring to the name should use ‘title.’

The producer entitled his program ”No Nonsense Navigation.”


The program, titled ”No Nonsense Navigation,” was not shown due to satellite problems.

So, the bad news is that for the most part, you are not entitled to use ‘entitled.’ The good news is that you can avoid the issue altogether by simplifying your writing:

The program, ”No Nonsense Navigation,” was not shown due to satellite problems.

And there you have it.

Tip 2: Ex. or e.g.

A reader wrote:

Someone just asked me a question, and I thought that you would be the best one to answer it. Do people use “ex.” anymore or is “e.g.” preferred?
I always prefer “ex.” because it is a logical abbreviation for “example,” and when I was younger I thought that “e.g.” was only used by people who misspelled “eggs-ample.”

As much as I love the ”eggs-ample,” I have to go with using e.g. over ‘ex.’ I have a couple of reasons for preferring ‘e.g.’ [NOTE: When ending a sentence with an abbreviation with a period, don’t add another period–one is quite enough.]

First, in my mind, ‘e.g.’ is more precise. As you, of course, know, ‘e.g.’ is the abbreviation for the Latin exempli gratia and means ‘for example.’ (To be precise, it actually means ‘for the sake of example.’) And that is its only meaning. It seems particularly appropriate for the more formal scientific writing that we do. ‘Ex’ (without the period) is often used to refer to someone past or former (e.g., ex-teammate, ex-wife, ). And, in one of my dictionaries, ‘ex.’ is defined as being short for extra. Since that ambiguity does not exist for ‘e.g.,’ that’s what I would use.

That doesn’t solve the issue of the difference between ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ but that’s another story. [NOTE: For our previous discussion of ‘e.g.’ versus ‘i.e.,’ see: https://languagetips.wordpress.com/category/egie/]

Bonus Tip 3: Gender and sex one more time

This is a reminder about a tip we addressed about a year ago.

Although people often use ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ synonymously, they are different. ‘Sex’ refers to male or female and ‘gender’ refers to masculine or feminine traits or characteristics. ‘Sex’ is biological; ‘gender’ is a social construct.

I think people decided to use ‘gender’ when meaning ‘sex’ because ‘gender’seems more gentile, and ‘sex’ seems more like, well, sex.

Hormones can be related to sex but cannot be related to gender.

We aim for accuracy in our writing, and it behooves us (I love the word ‘behooves’–it sounds so grand) to be accurate in the words we use. So don’t be shy, when you mean ‘sex, use ‘sex!’ (I think that might have come out wrong. )



  1. h davidson said,

    came across your “blog” on entitled. Please see OED, article “entitle.” HD

    • dlseltzer said,

      If you read a few of my wriitings, you’ll see I’m not a strict prescriptionist.

  2. Anonymous said,

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/39380-e-g-vs-e-x.html has probably the best definition about the EX and e.g. concepts I have seen on the web.

    I would say that in all forms e.g. should be used as most of the people are actually trying to say exempli gratia but didnt do well in Latin so they dont remember. EX seems to be occuring in the course workbooks where there is an example section. I guess this goes to show that most of us should have been paying more attention in English and Latin class.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: