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Epithets. I can add some more examples, for example: Charles the Great, Charles the Rash, Edward the Confessor BUT The Brothers Grimm, the Emperor Jones

What is the rule or difference in meaning when post-positive or pre-positive adjectives are used?

What is difference between Peter Rabbit and Peter the Rabbit?

  • Sinbad the Sailor, Barnacle Bill the Sailor, Popeye the Sailorman. They is what they is. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 10 '17 at 14:48
  • Kermit the Frog, but Fozzie Bear ... – Scott Sep 29 '17 at 3:18
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In the most general sense, "Peter the Rabbit" would imply you're talking about a rabbit named Peter, while "Peter Rabbit" would imply the character's surname is Rabbit. The character "Shaun the Sheep" is a sheep named Shaun, while Peppa Pig's is a pig who ALSO has the surname "Pig". Likewise, Charles the Great did not have "Great" in his legal name, while the Brothers Grimm shared the surname Grimm.

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The answer above is technically right, but the legal surname of a talking animal is not a terribly important matter.

So, I suspect that many such choices are likely made based on how easily the result rolls off a tongue. Dora the Explorer works. Need the "the" to break up those vowels. Dora Dinosaur sounds fine though. (So they got that wrong...err...). Shaun Sheep would sound awful: like one long, saliva-heavy non-verbal noise emission. The "the" is vital.

  • The first three examples are monarchs, and it's traditional to precede epithets applied to monarchs with 'the'. A writer who invents an animal character can give it whatever name seems good to them; there is no 'rule'. – Kate Bunting Sep 11 '17 at 14:10

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