William Gibson has a short story collection titled Burning Chrome. One of the stories in this collection is also titled Burning Chrome. I was recommending the book to someone and I wanted to say that of the short stories, the titular/eponymous story Burning Chrome was my favorite.

I believe both words are okay in this context but feel one would be more appropriate. Which one?

For titular, I'm using dictionary.com's 2nd definition:

  1. from whom or which a title or name is taken.

The book Burning Chrome is named after the titular story within.

For eponymous, I'm using the this definition:

giving one's name to a tribe, place, etc.

The short story, Burning Chrome, gives its name to the larger collection of short stories, Burning Chrome.

  • 3
    Have you looked the words up in a dictionary? If you have, please add their definitions to your question (along with links to any online sources) and explain why either word is or isn't suitable. Jan 29, 2013 at 14:52
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    The story "Burning Chrome", from the collection of the same name, is my favourite... - that happens to be one of my favourites too by the way. I have all his books.
    – mplungjan
    Jan 29, 2013 at 15:18
  • @coleopterist, I added links to definitions and why they both could be suitable.
    – Aaron
    Jan 29, 2013 at 16:00
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    @mplungjan Your revision of the sentence is clearer and avoids the confusion all together so it's better for conversation. How often do you get to use eponymous or titular though?
    – Aaron
    Jan 29, 2013 at 16:01

5 Answers 5


Titular: Relating to the title.

Eponymous: Giving a name to.

Both are not only appropriate, but often used, as such. Strictly if the collection had been given a name first, and then afterwords the story written for it, then eponymous would be wrong, but that's not the case.

I'd go for eponymous, just because I think it's the phrasing that would come to mind first, and I don't see any reason why I would decide to alter it afterwards. I wouldn't see anything wrong in titular either.

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    I also think titular can be helpful distinguishing between items in a work. Bilbo is the Titular Hobbit, although there may be other Hobbits in the book. Jul 24, 2013 at 11:17
  • @JeremyFrench relevance?
    – Jon Hanna
    Jul 24, 2013 at 13:19
  • I think it's just to draw contrast. Bilbo would not be the eponymous Hobbit because the book/movie is not called Bilbo or Bilbo's Adventure.
    – Aaron
    Feb 12, 2014 at 15:39
  • @Aaron that doesn't matter, since the book and the movie are both called "The Hobbit", and it remains that Bilbo is the hobbit in question, and hence the name-giver. It's not his name that is at question (unless perhaps he is called "movie" or "Peter Jackson really likes giving people headaches with 3D effects"), but that the name of the movie came from him one way or another.
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 12, 2014 at 16:01
  • I think both are correct. I just think in the case Jeremy is mentioning 'titular' feels better. I don't have any justification except I prefer to only use eponymous when the names are the exact same.
    – Aaron
    Feb 12, 2014 at 16:12

That which is eponymous gives its name to something else. You could argue that that is what is happening in your example. However, given that the word is typically used in the context of mythical characters who give their names to places or peoples, it seem altogether too overblown to be used in this context. Titular might do, but even that might not be understood. I really think you need to spell it out, and say that your favourite story is the one that gives its name to the whole collection.

  • Thanks @Barrie, mplugjan basically said the same in his comment and I agree that it is clearer to spell it out.
    – Aaron
    Jan 29, 2013 at 16:04

This seems cut-and-dry to me. "Eponymous" gives the name to the title. "Titular" means the title gives its name to something within.

In OP's example, the short story obviously came first. So you'd recommend the eponymous story Burning Chrome.


I would agree with @jon hanna's definitions, However I think that they suggest that there are times titular is appropriate, but eponymous is not.

Jane Eyre was eponymous because it adopted the character's name, but the Time Traveller's Wife is merely the titular character because she's merely referenced in the title without being specifically named. So I think that eponymous characters are the subset of titular characters that whose name was specifically mentioned in the title.

If this distinction exists, it is likely to disappear over time because people are likely to use eponymous in the looser sense regardless.


This answer ofers an alternative word to the two you ask about, which both strike me as too fancy or elaborate.

I was recommending the book to someone and I wanted to say that of the short stories, the titular/eponymous story Burning Chrome was my favorite.

I would say the title story or title piece, along the lines of the following entries in the Oxford English Dictonary:

title-essay n. an essay, usually the first in a volume, giving name to the whole collection.

title-piece n. an essay, piece of music, etc., giving its name to the collection of which it forms part.
. 1968 W. Roberts & H. T. Moore in D. H. Lawrence Phoenix II Introd. p. xii, ‘The Gentleman from San Francisco’ appeared as the title piece of a collection of Bunin's stories.

title-poem n. 1893 Dict. National Biogr. XXXIII. 440 The title-poem..is followed by smaller pieces.

title song / title-track n. the song or track giving its name to a long-playing record.

1887 Lit. World 23 July 229/2 The title-story, ‘Ivan Ilyitch,’ alone could be pronounced repulsive.

title-role / title-part n. the part in a play, etc., from which the title of the piece is taken.

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