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A common form of title, sometimes used in academic works, that can sound rather pretentious. Only the first bit is usually used in reviews or discussion.

May be used to evoke an older era, when such subtitles were more common.

Very likely to be an Either or Title.

See also Colon Cancer.

Examples of Short Title Long Elaborate Subtitle include:



  • Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam ("The Golem, How He Came Into the World").
  • Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
  • Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck
  • Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans


  • Just about any nonfiction book released in the USA these days, in the form of Liars and Scumbags: How Person X Ripped Off the Banks, Toppled the Government, and Changed the World.
    • The Daily Show, which frequently interviews authors of nonfiction books, has remarked on the phenomenon.
  • And, of course, TDS has done this twice: America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, and Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race.[1]
  • Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease
  • 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania
  • Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science
  • Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public
  • Stephen Donaldson's Gap series, beginning with The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story. OK, some of the subtitles were longer and more elaborate than that...
  • Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country. And its sequels.
  • Greg Palast's books The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons and High-Finance Fraudsters and Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Interestingly, not used in Palast's work in other media, such as his comic book "Steal Back Your Vote," or his films "Bush Family Fortunes" and "The Assassination of Hugo Chavez."
  • Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House With Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog. Just for the record, they are not exaggerating about any of it, including the rooms. The sequel, for the curious, is entitled Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room).
  • The third volume of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, Brisingr, is subtitled "The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular". Good luck pronouncing any of that though.
  • Andre Norton's Scarface: Being the story of one Justin Blade, late of the pirate isle of Tortuga, and how fate deal justly deal with him to his great profit
  • G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. Indeed, he complained that people forgot it and so misunderstood the book:

 But this error was entirely due to the fact that they had read the book but had not read the title page. In my case, it is true, it was a question of a subtitle rather than a title. The book was called The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare.

    • Although it's really an inversion, as the longer bit is the actual title and the shorter bit is the subtitle.
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. At least that's on the cover (depending on edition) and frontispeice. The Dramatis Personae page extends it to Good Omens: A Narrative of Certain Events occurring in the last eleven years of human history, in strict accordance as shall be shewn with: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter. Compiled and edited, with Footnotes of an Educational Nature and Precepts for the Wise, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
    • And the book within the book is The Nife and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter: Being a Certaine and Prefice Hiftory from the Prefent Day Unto the Endinge of this World, Containing therein Many Diuerse Wonders and precepts for the Wife, More complete than ever yet before publifhed, Concerning the Strange Times Aheade, And Events of a Wonderful Nature.
  • Christopher Ward's parody of Lady Into Fox by David Garnett amps up the original's pastiche of 18th century literature. This includes giving it the title Gentleman Into Goose - Being the Exact and True Account of Mr. Timothy Teapot Gent., of Puddleditch, in Dorset, that was Changed to a great Grey Gander at the wish of his Wife. How, though a Gander, he did wear Breeches, and Smoak a Pipe. How he near lost his Life to his Dog, Tyger. You have, also, an account of his Gallantries with a Goose, very Diverting to Read, and many other Surprising Adventures, full of Wonder and Merriment, and a Full Relation of the Manner of his Dismal End. Worthy to be had in all Families for a Warning to Wives and by all Bachelors intending Marriage.
  • The third book in the Captain Underpants series somewhat falls into this, but also into Character Name and the Noun Phrase territory: Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds).
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.
  • Humorist Roy Blount, Jr. is rather fond of these:
    • Crackers: This Whole Many-Angled Thing of Jimmy, More Carters, Ominous Little Animals, Sad Singing Women, My Daddy, and Me
    • Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof: Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory (whew!)
    • Hail, Hail, Euphoria!: Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, the Greatest War Movie Ever Made
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five's full title is Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod [and Smoking Too Much], Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire Bombing of Dresden, Germany, ‘The Florence of the Elbe,’ a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale. This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From. Peace.
  • A Stranger Here Myself: Being the Life Story and Revelations of Mister Rab C. Nesbitt of Govan by Ian Pattison.


  • Bright Eyes' Lifted: Or Keep Your Ear to the Ground, the Story Is in the Soil. Yep, that's the title.
  • Bill Frisell's "Hard Plains Drifter or, As I Take My Last Breath and the Noose Grows Tight, the Incredible Events of the Past Three Days Flash Before My Eyes"
  • The Blow's The Concussive Caress, or, Casey Caught Her Mom Singing Along With the Vacuum.

Tabletop Games



  1. And if you really want to get pedantic, both titles should be preceded by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents...
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