• entitlement •
in-tai-têl-mênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A right, legal claim, someone's due, benefit owed someone. 2. (US) Federal insurance programs like Medicare and social security.
Notes: Here is a word adopted by US politicians since President Reagan to refer to health and retirement benefits paid independent of other taxes by taxpayers. It is the only lexical progeny of the verb entitle "to give right to".
In Play: This word has a slightly derogatory connotation when used with the word sense: "Imelda Marcos always maintained a sense of entitlement, despite the harsh realities of life all around her." Most US politicians nowadays include social security and Medicare under this rubric: "Conservatives generally oppose increasing the minimum wage and support reducing entitlement spending."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a noun made up within English from entitle, a verb borrowed from Old French entiteler (today intituler "to call as a title, to name"). This word was inherited from Latin intitulare "to give name or title to", made up of in "in" + titulus "superscription, title, name, label". We see the wanderings of the meaning of this word from "superscription", which often is the name of the object on which it appears, to the superscript of chapters in a book, which does name them. Today this word is titre in French, titolo in Italian, titlu in Romanian, and título in Spanish. The Germanic languages have all borrowed it, as we see in German Titel, Dutch, Swedish, and Danish titel, and Norwegian tittel. How titulus got into the Latin language, no one knows. (Barbara Beeton is entitled to a bit of recognition here as a result of her suggesting it recently in the Alpha Agora.)
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