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Or, A Work By Any Other Name; Or, The Work So Nice, They Named It Twice (Or in this article's case, thrice).

Sometimes a work gives itself multiple alternative titles in the title, usually giving the shortest title first, with the result being a Short Title Long Elaborate Subtitle. Using this trope these days can give a similar Retraux feel as In Which a Trope Is Described.

Compare Colon Cancer.

Examples of Either or Title include:


Fairy Tales, or: The Oldest Ones in the Books


Films, or: Motion Pictures


Literature, or: The Art of Words

  • Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
  • Moby Dick; or, The Whale. Confusingly, the whale is always called Moby Dick, without the hyphen.
  • The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. The subtitle was later used as the title of Bilbo's book in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson.
  • Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, also by Samuel Richardson.
  • Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned and titled a poem Sebastian, or Virtue Rewarded when she was about 9 years old. The contents still apparently haven't been published.
    • In fact, subtitling your book "or: Virtue Rewarded" was apparently Victorian Stuart- and Hanoverian-era slang for Morals Inside®. See the Theater section.
      • Subverted by the Marquis de Sade's novels Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue and Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded.
  • The famously banned erotic novel Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland.
  • Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress by Frances Burney.
  • I, Cthulhu; or, What's a Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing in a Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9' S, Longitude 126° 43' W)?, by Neil Gaiman — doubles as a snowclone title of the form "I, Noun".
  • The Thomas Hobbes book Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death
    • "The Children's Crusade" part was due to a promise to the wife of a fellow former soldier. She was upset that the book he was writing would glorify war. She said, "You guys were just children back then". So he promised the book would be titled, "The Children's Crusade". Although no one bothers with the full title, she need not worry, it doesn't glorify war.
    • Also by Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine.
    • And the last of the "Trout Trilogy": Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday!. Vonnegut was very fond of this technique.
  • This is incredibly common in early 20th century children's series books as well. Examples: The Bobbsey Twins, or Merry Days Indoors and Out and The Moving Picture Girls, or First Appearance in Photo Dramas. This seems to have died off by the time Nancy Drew came about.
  • Philip K. Dick's Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb. The title was a Shout-Out to Dr. Strangelove.
  • Brisingr, or The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular. The second one just isn't as catchy.
  • John O'Farrell's An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, or 2000 Years of Upper-Class Idiots In Charge and An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, or 60 Years of Making The Same Stupid Mistakes As Always.
  • Referenced in Wyrd Sisters, where the Discworld version of Shakespeare, Hwel the Playwright, has written a comedy called A Wizard of Sorts, or: Please Yourself - the subtitle parodies the subtitle of Twelfth Night and the actual title of As You Like It.
  • Wil Wheaton's short story The Saga of Spongebob Vega$pant$ (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Star Trek).
  • Friedrich Nietzsche was famously fond of subtitles, but the only Either or Title was Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer.
  • The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island.
  • Varney the Vampire, or, the Feast of Blood
  • 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
  • Cormac McCarthy's western novel Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West.
  • All of Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift books take the form "Title, or The X of Matthew Swift".
  • On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
  • Fluke, or I Know Why The Winged Whale Sings
  • Dave Barry in Cyberspace is not itself an example, but several of its chapter subtitles are. The most convoluted example is:
Cquote1.svg

 9: The Internet

Transforming Society and Shaping the Future, Through Chat

Or: Watch What You Write, Mr. Chuckletrousers

Or: Why Suck Is OK, Blow Is Not

Plus: Danger! Sushi Tapeworms!

Cquote2.svg
  • Voltaire's Candide, ou L'Optimisme, translated into English as "Candide, or All For the Best", "Candide, or The Optimist" and "Candide, or Optimism".
  • Michael Moorcock's Doctor Who novel The Coming of the Terraphiles, or Pirates of the Second Aether!
  • The Diamond Age, Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
  • Principia Discordia or How the West Was Lost, was the original title. The 4th edition is more well known, and bears the slightly more cumbersome title, Principia Discordia or How I Found Goddess And What I Did To Her When I Found Her: The Magnum Opiate Of Malaclypse The Younger, Wherein is Explained Absolutely Everything Worth Knowing About Absolutely Anything.


Music, or: The Rhythm's Gonna Get Ya

  • Most any time part of a song title is in parentheses, this means that the part included in the parentheses is an alternate title.
    • Fairly often when this happens, a song already has a title, but the artist (or the studio) realizes fans call the song by another name, and hence use the alternate title as recognition of — or resignation to — that fact.
  • Every song on Radiohead's album Hail to the Thief (including the album itself, which is actually titled "Hail to the Thief, or, The Gloaming"). For example, singles "There There" and "2+2=5" are really called "There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)" and "2+2=5 (The Lukewarm)". While the secondary titles are rarely ever used, the tracklist on the back cover includes both, and the lyrics in the liner notes only use the secondary titles.
  • The Incredible String Band's 1967 album The 5000 Spirits or The Layers of the Onion.
  • Sufjan Stevens sometimes combines this with his infamous love for the Long Title. Consider this whopper from the Illinois album: "The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, Or "I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight Them Until They Are Off My Land"
  • The Coldplay album Viva la Vida, or Death and All his Friends. As you might guess, it has two title tracks.
  • On Them Crooked Vultures' self-titled album, there's the song "Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up."
  • "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)".
  • Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)".
  • There is a Queen song titled "Machines (or Back to Humans)".
  • Bright Eyes' 2002 album Lifted, or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground.
  • "Richard II, Or Extraordinary Popular Dimensions And The Madness Of Crowds (Responsible Hate Anthem)" by Titus Andronicus
  • Cradle of Filth's first EP, "V Empire Or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein"
  • Glassjaw's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang EP has "Star Above My Bed (Call of the Tiger Woman)" and "Vermont Connection (The Chapter 7 Test or The Ephesians Were Right After All)".
  • The Beatles: "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"
    • "This Boy (Ringo's Theme)"
    • Some early pressings of "I Am The Walrus" had the secondary title "No You're Not, Said Little Nicole."
  • The last track of Paul Simon's Graceland is a song entitled "All Around the World, or The Myth of Fingerprints".
  • Chiodos has The Undertaker's Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable (The Final Battle). Interestingly, it's almost exclusively referred to by its Long Title.
  • The Dandy Warhols' Odditorium or Warlords of Mars.
  • Captain Beefheart's Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller): In this case, the two titles are somewhat justified because the album consisted of reworked songs from a never released Frank Zappa-produced album that would have been called just Bat Chain Puller.
  • The soundtrack to Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines has a cut titled "The Dance of the Intrepid Airmen, or: 55 Years Before the Beatles."
  • The Baby Stompers have a song entitled "F16 or How I Learned about Male to Male Sexual Relations from that Weird 40 Year Old Guy at Summer Camp When I Was 8 Years Old in the Back of His Ute, I Was Dressed in a Small Petite Dress and Covered In Vaseline Before the Police Pulled up. This Led to Me Buying a MacBook Pro and Writing Depressing Indie Songs about my Sexual Sexperiences and that Seedy 40 Year Olds Should Not Be Trusted."
  • Love's Forever Changes album includes a song called "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale".
  • Except for the short introductory track, every track on Lemon Jelly's Concept Album 69-95 is titled with the last two digits of the year in which the track's principal sample was released, followed by a more easily-remembered title, e.g. "79 aka The Shouty Track", "'95 aka Make Things Right", etc. The year element is usually dropped when the tracks are referred to in any other context.
  • The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina. Apparently either they or their label couldn't decide which single should be the Title Track.


Radio, or: The Hills Are Alive with the Sound

  • As with anything they were let near, The Goons mocked this mercilessly. For example: How To Rule The World In 80 Days Or: Your Money Back.
    • Shortly after announcing that title, you could hear "There's money for you, there's money for you..."
    • Another one went "The Greatest Mountain in the World, or, I Knew Fred Crute, or, The Greatest Mountain in the World!" [1]


Theater, or: Life Is But a Stage

  • William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will.
  • Winifred Phelps' Temptation Sordid, or: Virtue Rewarded, A Melodrama
  • Charles Shadwell's Irish Hospitality, or Virtue Rewarded
  • Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift, or Virtue Rewarded
  • Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?
  • Every Gilbert and Sullivan work except Trial by Jury and The Sorcerer.
  • In The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, the cast make fun of how Strictly Formula Shakespeare's comedies tend to be, and thus abridge them all into one play. The title is:
    • The Comedy of Two Well-Measured Gentlemen Lost in the Merry Wives of Venice on a Midsummer's Twelfth Night in Winter, or Sybaline Taming Pericles the Merchant in the Tempest of Love as Much as You Like it for Nothing, or The Loveboat Goes to Verona, or Four Weddings and a Transvestite!
  • Eric Overmyer's On the Verge, or the Geography of Yearning.
  • Eugene Ionesco's Amédée, or How to Get Rid of It


Video Games, or: A Perfectly Good Waste of Time

  • The 1993 adventure game, Pepper's Adventures in Time introduces each chapter of the game with such a title. One title hints at what you'll generally be focusing on, while the other gives a clue about the defining event of the chapter.


Western Animation, or: Moving Drawings

  • The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show did this in every "On the Next..." preview. Both episode titles were always horrendous puns. As a result, the only episodes whose titles weren't an example were the season premieres like "Metal-Munching Mice" (see Evil Plan).
    • The end of episode two of the four-episode arc "Moosylvania Saved" did not have either the main title or Either Or title.
  • One episode of Teen Titans did this repeatedly, the episode title itself ("Bunny Raven, or How to Make a Titananimal Disappear") being one example.
  • The casino episode of The Simpsons had a Shout-Out to Dr. Strangelove with the title "$pringfield, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling".
  • Both Mission Hill and Stroker and Hoop did this. Both of them, however, only lasted 13 episodes.
  • The Hanna-Barbera version of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures featured an episode where our heroes fetch Mozart and Little Richard, titled "The Birth Of Rock And Roll, or: Too Hip For The Womb."
  • The finale of The Robonic Stooges was titled "Stooges, You're Fired." Reference sources have the Either Or title as "The Day The Mirth Stood Still."
  • Hanna-Barbera's 1967 revisionist version of Alice in Wonderland had the alternate title What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
  • The Powerpuff Girls homage to Rocky and Bullwinkle, I See A Funny Cartoon In Your Future uses this. The antagonist is Madame Argentina, a crooked fortune teller who leaves the girls in a literal cliffhanger using three Powerpuff voodoo dolls. The next episode is "Hoo Doo Voodoo, or: Don't Scrye For Me, Argentina."
  • Several Scooby Doo episodes had alternate titles that were not used. Among them:
    • Scooby Doo Meets The Addams Family (or Wednesday Is Missing)
    • A Dynamic Scooby Doo Affair (or The Counterfeit Caper)
    • Scooby Doo Meets Laurel & Hardy (or The Ghost of Bigfoot)
    • The Caped Crusader Caper (or The Sying Fluit...er, Flying Suit)
    • Who Was That Cat Creature I Saw You With Last Night? (or, Make A Beeline Away From That Feline)
    • Terror, Thy Name Is Zombo (or Roller Ghoaster Ride)
    • A Scooby Doo Christmas (or Ho Ho Horrors)
  • The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall follows the same convention that plagued the book series it's parodying, "The Rover Boys".


Webcomics, or: All the Fun, No Paper

  1. We're not entirely sure who Fred Crute was.
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