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Is there a grammatical reason for Tiffany & Co being made possessive in Breakfast at Tiffany's?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Chenmunka, Edwin Ashworth, choster, Rory Alsop Sep 7 '14 at 22:33

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    Because home of X and house of X take the possessive to make X’s place. So one has breakfast at somebody’s house, or just plain at sombody’s. One does not have breakfast at *somebody by itself. This only happens for people, including personified people. Many store names were formally known as X’s, and many still are. – tchrist Sep 6 '14 at 13:33
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    The 'rule' has been relaxed by many businesses and organisations, and their preferences trump English-as-we-knew-it. I'm trying to ascertain whether "lunch at Wetherspoons" ("Serious concerns about the proposed Wetherspoons bar and diner planned for Largs..." / "A spokesman for Wetherspoon's said ...": internet) is what JD Wetherspoon prefers, but most references do not include the apostrophe. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is set in stone; my daughter's got the film. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 6 '14 at 18:48
  • @tchrist this question is not a duplicate. The answers in the dup do not explain the grammatical use of the possessive. – Mari-Lou A Sep 8 '14 at 11:04
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Today the store's full and proper name is Tiffany & Company; however, its original name in 1837 was Tiffany, Young and Ellis which was shortened to Tiffany & Company in 1853.

Colloquially, the store is often referred to as Tiffany's, in speech (TIF-uh-nees; or /ˈtɪfəniz/ ) and in writing. The use of the apostrophe was often a trait or a type of hallmark for many local businesses and stores in the past, but it also served a purpose, the apostrophe informed its clients that the business, store, shop, bank, etc. they were seeing or entering was founded (and usually owned) by a person.

For example in the UK we have:

  • Sainsbury's
  • Waterstone's (but since January 2012 the apostrophe is omitted)
  • Lewis's (now defunct)
  • Lloyd's of London (often shortened to Lloyd's)

The US instead has many more department stores and businesses names with the apostrophe:

  • Applebee's
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Brink's
  • CiCi's Pizza
  • Dillard's
  • Kohl's
  • Lowe's
  • Macy's
  • McDonald's

The use of the apostrophe in Breakfast at Tiffany's is orthographically justifiable because one its founders was Charles Lewis Tiffany.

Nevertheless nowadays, possibly dictated by the boom in e-commerce the tendency is to omit the apostrophe "Of course, URLs don’t allow for apostrophe use, and consumers have become accustomed to the exclusion of such punctuation when seeking a business on the Web." Pat DePuy

The following extract is taken from the English newspaper, The Guardian.

So, Waterstones – no apostrophe? Hey, no catastrophe

[...] The fact is that the way retailers choose to punctuate their name is a mess and certain to remain so. You have the "what's an apostrophe?" camp, of which the market leader is Tesco (colloquially known, ironically, as "Tesco's"); you may have noticed their line of boys toys.

In Tesco's defence, there never was a Mr Tesco, so a possessive apostrophe as in "Tesco's" would be illogical. There were a Marks and a Spencer, but luckily for us they also decided not to cause confusion by using apostrophes, although you do have to remember to employ the ampersand rather than "and" if you want to get Marks & Spencer (strictly, "Marks & Sparks") right.

Boots, Morrisons and now Waterstones eschew the apostrophe with less justification, as their shops were founded or developed and owned by, respectively, Jesse Boot, William Morrison and Tim Waterstone. [...] Then there are the businesses that actually get it right, headed by Sainsbury's (as in Mr Sainsbury's shop) and McDonald's (as in Ronald McDonald's Egg McMuffins). The grey area occupied by Toys R Us's backward R we will leave for another time. (cont'd)

The Guardian

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