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Is it really proper to say "The book is entitled 1984"? Entitle seems to refer to the act of giving one the right to do something.

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It's usually possible to avoid using "entitled" and "titled". E.g., "I just read a terrific book: George Orwell's 1984" or "I'd like a copy of Orwell's 1984". If you're playing a guessing game -- "I'm thinking of a book. The title is 1984. It was published in 1949. And it's author was who?" -- you don't need it either. – user21497 Jan 30 '13 at 7:00

There is nothing wrong with using entitle that way.

entitle : 5. give a title to a book, film, play, etc.

It may be taken as in a higher register than many people normally speak but it is, in fact, more widely used in books a Google ngram chart showing the usage of "book entitled" varying over time but averaging around 0.00007% where "book titled" had nearly zero usage until 1930, when its usage has somewhat steadily increased from 0% to 0.00002% in the year 2000

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Yes, and it merely means that it's pretentious, verbose, academic prose. But there's nothing wrong with poor writing or speaking style these days because all anyone cares about is what they and their cellphones look like: fashion plates don't need to communicate with words: consumer goods are good enough. – user21497 Jan 30 '13 at 8:22

It's better and more usual to say 'the book is titled 1984,' or 'the book's title is 1984.'

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