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100 votes

Was the title "The Lord of the Rings" picked on purpose to be ambiguous?

The phrase “the Lord of the Rings” is ambiguous in the same way in English: it might, in theory, refer either to the One Ring, which rules the other rings, or to Sauron, who can use it to rule all the ...
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84 votes
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Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is a pretty long mouthful of a name. Imagine having to say all that every time you wanted to talk to fellow fans about the franchise. The most obvious way to ...
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38 votes

Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

It was the title given to the "Earth Edition" on the web: H2G2.com This was founded - and named - in 1999 by Douglas Adams himself. Clearly taken from The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This ...
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  • 2,068
38 votes
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Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

In-universe the "light fantastic" is an actual, factual thing. There was no real need for the torches. The Octavo filled the room with a dull, sullen light, which wasn’t strictly light at ...
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35 votes

Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

It is a punning reference to the phrase ‘trip the light fantastic’, which means (per The Phrase Finder) To dance, especially in an imaginative or 'fantastic' manner. The phrase seems to arise from ...
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25 votes

Why is it called Watership Down?

Watership Down is a real place in Hampshire that just happens to sound as if there is some connection to water. (image by Loganberry of Wikipedia; public domain) It's not a fictitious name invented ...
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  • 1,334
25 votes

What is meant by the title "The Color of Money"?

In the novel, Tevis writes: His skill on the arena of green cloth—cloth that was itself the color of money—could never be only pretense. So the idea is making the connection between the green baize ...
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21 votes
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Why is Gatsby great?

It seems to have been the editor who proposed the title, and the author didn't like it much. The original suggestion seems to have come from Fitzgerald's editor and friend, Maxwell Perkins: I ...
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14 votes
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Why is Pechorin a hero of our time?

It's intended to be ironic. In his preface to the second edition, Lermontov criticises the readers who - like you - took the title at face value and interpreted it to mean Pechorin was really being ...
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13 votes
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Why is it called Watership Down?

As Aurorar0001 says, Watership Down is a real place name in Hampshire, England. The following comments are meant to shed some light on the origin of this place name. The second part, Down, is a noun ...
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11 votes
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Why is the Agatha Christie play called "The Mousetrap"?

As @yannis and @Valorum have said in the comments, the play's original title Three Blind Mice had to be changed because there was an earlier play with the same title. Yannis shared this information ...
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11 votes

What is meant by the title "The Color of Money"?

Hosek is right, but further connotations of the color of money refer to the fact that profit and gain are powerful, perhaps the most powerful, driving forces behind human behaviour (often at its worst)...
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10 votes
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Why has this Premchand story been translated as both "Catastrophe" and "A Positive Change"?

The Hindi title "विध्वंस" (transliterated as "Vidhwans") means "catastrophe" or "destruction". I am not too familiar with Urdu, but Google Translate says that &...
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9 votes
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Why is Roald Dahl's short story called "Nunc Dimittis"?

Note that the translation of the opening of the prayer in the King James version and the English Book of Common Prayer is: Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace and "depart" refers ...
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8 votes

Why was "Notre Dame de Paris" changed from "Notre Dame of Paris" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" when it was re-published in English?

In Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen, it's claimed that: The original title of Hugo's work was Notre Dame de Paris, making no mention of the disfigurement of ...
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8 votes
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Are the numerous hunger references attributed to the title of A Moveable Feast?

The final choice to make "A Moveable Feast" the title was made by Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary. It was supposedly suggested by Hemingway's friend, A. E. Hostner. While the Hemingway quote is ...
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  • 5,674
8 votes

Why is the title of "Le Morte d'Arthur" in French if the book is in English?

We don't know very much about the life of Thomas Malory, but it is clear that Le Morte Darthur draws on French sources. For example, in "Capitulum tercium" (in the version printed by Caxton, which is ...
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8 votes
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What is the original Korean title of "The Tiger and the Persimmon"?

In Korean, the story is called 호랑이와 곶감. I would personally go with the translation: “The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons", but this isn't the exact translation. First, I’ll address the food, ...
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7 votes

Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

You already know what H2G2 stands for, and that it is a type of acronym to avoid having to write or say the whole name. I think you are asking why the acronym is H2G2 instead of HHGG, which is the ...
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7 votes

Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

The light that Pratchett refers to is Octarine. This is defined in the Discworld books as the eighth colour of the spectrum and the colour of magic. "The Colour Of Magic" itself being a title of ...
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  • 2,068
7 votes

Why is Amy Chua's book called "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" instead of "Battle Hymn of the Mother-Tigress"?

There are a couple reasons: first and foremost, the term “Tiger Mother” was already in common use, particularly among Chinese-Americans to describe the kind of parenting style that Chua writes about ...
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  • 2,430
6 votes

Meaning of the title "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"

As suggested in a comment, it is a reference to the normal practice of putting injured horses out of their misery. Gloria feels her life is hopeless and has attempted suicide in the past. During the ...
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  • 2,068
6 votes
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Why are some people dissatisfied with the titling of "The Red Wheelbarrow"?

The new title spoils the minimalist effect of the poem. Firstly, for reference, the text of the poem itself is simply this: so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the ...
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6 votes

Why is Gatsby great?

Did Fitzgerald himself come up with the title? I believe so. I disagree with the claim that it is likely that Maxwell Perkins, Fitzgerald's editor, came up with the title. We have the correspondence ...
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  • 7,880
6 votes
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Savantism by Whitman

Just for clarity, I believe the intended meaning of "savantism" in the poem title is not related to "Savant Syndrome" or terms such as "idiot savant" and "autistic savant", concepts that I believe ...
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  • 106
6 votes

Are Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence actually songs? Or is the word song a metaphor?

There's a substantial body of evidence that the title "Songs of Innocence" points to the fact that the poems were intended to be sung. In the article William Blake and the Music of the Songs, Kevin ...
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6 votes
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What inspired the title of "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?"?

I'm wondering if the claim you heard was a conflation of a few things. I could find two sources online stating that the title of Why Didn't They Ask Evans was something Christie overheard. The first ...
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6 votes
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What does "speed the plow" mean in David Mamet's play?

Mamet seems to have not been referencing a song itself so much as an aphorism derived from its presentation on items of crockery. He relates the origin of the play's title in the Chicago Tribune in ...
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  • 15.5k
5 votes

Why is this poem by Paul Auster entitled "Spokes"?

A key theme of this poem is conflict, or perhaps the gap, between the actuality of nature, our perception of it and the frustrations and disconnects that result from our attempts to describe it with ...
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