We don't use the definite article with personal names, however, in "the Grinch", why is it so?

Yeah, I know sometimes we can use "the". When it's a person everybody knows about or something like that.

But I wonder why it's "the Grinch"?

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    How do you know that Grinch is his personal name? We say the President, the King, the High Chancellor, the Devil, the Pope, the Leviathan, the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman. None of these are personal names. Jan 2, 2019 at 14:54
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    Paula, wel­come to Stack Ex­change! Thanks for post­ing this as a new ques­tion af­ter we asked you to. ¶ AT­TEN­TION WOULD-BE CLO­SERS: Please do not close this ques­tion.The asker had ac­ci­den­tally posted it as an an­swer to Usage of def­i­nite ar­ti­cles with per­sonal names, then fol­lowed our ad­vice. So please don't close this off-hand­edly; in­stead, edit it to im­prove it if you can.
    – tchrist
    Jan 2, 2019 at 16:35
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    There is a guy who goes by the name "The Donald", but I can't remember what happened to him...
    – jimm101
    Jan 2, 2019 at 18:37
  • @jimm101 He was governor of Maryland in the late 1980's and early 1990's and then he was comptroller, and passed away in 2011. I've heard rumors about some poser from New York but they're hard to credit.
    – Spencer
    Aug 2, 2022 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


The Grinch is not his name. Although it’s not shown in The Grinch, “Grinch” is the name of whatever beast the Grinch is. Were he something else, we might call him the Sasquatch.

But other Grinches are featured in other stories. According to The Hoobub and the Grinch:

Grinches sell Hoobubs such things [e.g. a worthless piece of string] each day.

Full poem with picture of an orange Grinch offering a Hoobub a string

Also, both "Mr. [Animal]" and "the [Animal]" are commonly used in stories, such as this version of The Tortoise and the Hare:

“Good morning, Mr. Hare,” the Tortoise said.

  • If Grinch is the name of the species, then why is it capitalised? It is the combination of the definite article and the capitalisation that is troubling the OP. And if Grinch is not his surname, why is he referred to as Mr. Grinch?
    – jsw29
    Jan 4, 2019 at 16:57
  • There are lots of Mr Hedgehog, Mr Wolf, Mr Frog etc in children's literature. It is a common form of address for animals by children, such as the children's game What's the time, Mr Wolf?, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox, Mr Beaver in the Chronicles of Narnia, etc.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 2, 2022 at 21:59
  • I don't recall seeing the Grinch referred to in Dr. Seuss's original book as "Mr. Grinch." The place where that term is used (repeatedly) is in the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," which appears in the television adaptation but not in the book. As for capitalizing the G in "the Grinch," Dr. Seuss consistently initial-caps the names of his many made-up creatures, such as the Tizzle-Top-Tufted Mazurka (from If I Ran the Zoo), the Fibbel (from If I Ran the Circus), the Yink (from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish), and the Smorgasbord (from Happy Birthday to You).
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 4, 2022 at 5:28

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