Entitled to Know


I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent researches.

jennifer atkinson asked:

“When did we start calling social security, medicare, and medicaid ‘entitlements’?  Seems like they might well be deemed obligations.”

The Oxford English Dictionary does not yet include this sense of the word “entitlement,” but I believe that it originated with or was at least popularized by pioneering legal scholar Charles Reich. Reich used “entitlement” meaning “right to governmental benefits” in his landmark article “Individual Rights and Social Welfare: The Emerging Legal Issues” in the Yale Law Journal in 1965. He had earlier used the corresponding sense of the verb “entitled” in his even more landmark article “The New Property” in the Yale Law Journal in 1964.

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?

John maclachlan

When did surgery start being called a "procedure"?

John maclachlan

Was the secretary of defense ever called anything else such as the secretary of offense?

Joshua Northey

At one time it was the "war" department. But once we became powerful and started making elective wars we thought it better to rebrand it (I am being a little facetious).

For any student of history theyou have a nation that:
1) Has made the largest relative portion of military spending in the history of the world
2) Has about as strategically unassaible position as could be hoped for
3) Has no real enemies of note and hasn't been meaningfully attacked in decades
4) Conducted a large number of overseas wars
5) Yet calls its military "The department of defense" is sad, laughable, and predictable.

Almost everything about our military and its use has to do with economic imperialism and enforcing global political hegemony. It has almost nothing to do with "defending" anything other than our ability to coerce other countries into economic/political relationships that benefit us instead of them.


robyn ann goldstein

My sense of this statement is probably `true' and the truth (when shown) hurts i.e., stings a bit. Sorta reminds of situations when people knowingly cause harm and couch it in moral terms (it was for your own good). Isn't the idea to be true to the values we hold dear. Perhaps people need a reminder so I wouldn't mind seeing it in print.

Cañada Kid

When completing something with relative ease... "It was such a breeze"


there is an old expression about standing on the shoulders of a giant. I don't recall it exactly, but it is worthy noting that I would prefer to stand tall and be the giant than to be standing on anyone else's shoulders. One of things that I have learned is that there is an opportunity for us all to do that if only by getting off our high horses. And the individual responsible for making this statement `famous' learned that too.

Eric M. Jones.

About all that can be said on the subject can be found at:


When did management become a science, and business something that could be taught at a university? I know Matthew Stewart did some research in his book "The management myth", but it seems to me this is worth to be looked into again.

Brian Keaney

I'd like to know where "Another county heard from" comes from. The first time I heard the expression was in The Quiet Man, a film set in Ireland, but I recently heard it was coined during a close US Presidential election. I'd like to hear from Shapiro County on the origins of this expression.