Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Aug 19 13:18:53 UTC 2010

On Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 2:07 AM, Paul Frank <paulfrank at post.harvard.edu> wrote:
> When did "entitled" take on the meaning of "who think they're entitled
> (to something or other)"? I've heard of a "sense of entitlement" but I
> don't think I'd noticed this meaning of "entitled":
> "I’m not talking about the tantrums we see most often these days, on
> the sidelines of youth sports games or the confines of reality TV.
> (It’s hard to call the latter ones true tantrums, since you can
> practically hear the producers whispering stage directions.) And I’m
> certainly not talking about the outbursts we’ve all seen from entitled
> air travelers."
> From a column in the Boston Globe (which I also saw in the
> International Herald Tribune),
> http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/08/17/a_well_thrown_tantrum/

This seems fairly common, even if dictionaries have yet to catch up to
the usage. It strikes me as similar to the progression of "fraught" --
from "fraught with X" to standalone "fraught" as a predicate and
premodifying adjective:


"Entitled" could be used as a predicate adjective without "to X" as
early as 1977:

Robert Coles, "The Children of Affluence," _Atlantic_ 270 (Sep. 1977):
"Again, it is a matter of feeling entitled. A child who has been told
repeatedly that all he or she needs to to is try hard does not feel
inclined to allow himself or herself long stretches of time for
skeptical self-examination. The point is to feel _entitled_ -- then
act upon that feeling."

There's also a 1980 book by Jacqueline Carey Lair that is, um,
entitled, _I Exist, I Need, I'm Entitled_.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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