Usage and Grammar

Q. In the August Q&A, you did not correct the correspondent’s misuse of the word entitled (“a poster authored with Smith entitled ‘Measuring . . .’”). Were you just being kind, or did you not want to distract from the question being asked?

A. You might prefer the more economical word title in your own writing, but entitle is widely used, and many writers think it makes a better verb. The belief that entitle must not be used in place of title is one of many spurious “zombie rules” clung to by writers and editors and teachers. If you Google “grammar superstitions” or “grammar zombie rules,” you might be surprised at how many of your own habits are out of date!