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having an honorary title without authority


titular = titular (einen wichtigen oder beeindruckenden Titel tragen, aber nicht die Macht oder die Pflichten haben, die normalerweise damit verbunden sin), nur dem Namen nach existieren



“Othello has historically seen white actors use make-up to appear black while playing the TITULAR character, although using blackface in Shakespeare’s play and elsewhere is now widely seen as unacceptable.”

Ian Youngs — BBC (24th April 2024)

“Rachel Zegler is, yet again, addressing criticism related to casting decisions on Disney Studios’ upcoming live-action remake of its 1937 animated classic “Snow White,” in which she stars as the TITULAR heroine. Since Zegler’s casting was announced in 2021, she has faced racist remarks from internet users who questioned why an actress of Latin descent is playing a character celebrated for having ‘skin as white as snow.’ “

Alli Rosenbloom — CNN (19th July 2023)

Did you


- having an important or impressive title but not having the power or duties that usually go with it

- existing in name only

Britannica / Collins Dictionary


“Titular" stems from the Latin titulus meaning an inscription, label or honorable title — passing through French into English in the 1590s, it  assumed the meaning of having a title nominally or officially, but without the full powers implied by that title.


Here are some modern-day examples of the use of "titular":

- Titular Leaders in Corporate Structures
  In some corporations, certain executives may have impressive titles, such as "Vice President of Innovations" but their actual influence on company decisions or policies is minimal. Their role may be more about representing a certain company value or initiative without having substantial authority over it.

- Titular Monarchs
  In constitutional monarchies like the United Kingdom or Sweden, the monarch (such as a king or queen) is considered a titular head of state. They perform ceremonial duties and are symbols of the nation's history and unity, but the real political power is held by elected officials, such as the prime minister and the parliament.

- Titular Positions in Academia or Non-Profits
  In some academic or nonprofit settings, individuals might be given honorary titles, such as "Chairman Emeritus" or "President for Life," which carry prestige but do not come with active managerial responsibilities or decision-making powers.

- Titular Locations in Names
  Some businesses or institutions might include locations in their names that no longer reflect their actual operations. For instance, a bank might retain "New York" in its name despite now having operations primarily in other states or countries.

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation, say something like:

“Before her passing, Queen Elizabeth II was the TITULAR head of state of the United Kingdom. She performed ceremonial duties and served as a symbol of continuity and unity, but actual executive powers rested with elected officials like the Prime Minister."

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