George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Aug 19 15:33:19 UTC 2010

I believe that there is/was a dismissive New York expression "You're entitled", meaning "Go right ahead, I won't stop you."
I remember when I first moved to NYC (1972) going to a lunch counter to buy the Sunday Times.  I picked one up and flipped through it to be sure that all the pieces I was interested in were there.  The counterman said "It's all there".  I said, "I want to check anyway".  He shrugged, said "You're entitled".
I noticed the phrase because it was unfamiliar to me, despite my born & raised in Brooklyn father.  The dialogue took place in a part of Brooklyn that was half Jewish and half Italian -- a NY Jewish expression?


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010 9:29 am
Subject: Re: entitled

> 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:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/magazine/23FOB-onlanguage-t.html
> "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_.
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> http://benzimmer.com/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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