Source: Sams Teach Yourself TCP/IP in 24 Hours by Joe Casad (2012)


Authors and linguists are delighted that the creators of this technology did not use an acronym for it. But why did they choose the name Bluetooth? Because it crunches data? Because it takes bytes? Forget about finding a metaphor. Bluetooth is named for the Viking King Harald Bluetooth, who ruled Denmark and Norway in the eleventh century. King Harald is famous for converting to Christianity after watching a German priest succeed with a miraculous dare.

Why the? Can't we just simply say is named for Viking King Harald Bluetooth?

  • 1
    You way want to consider these possibilities: It was named for a Viking king, specifically the Viking king known as Harald Bluetooth. It was named after a man called Harald Bluetooth, specifically the Harald Bluetooth that was a Viking king. Besides, "King" makes a good job title, but "Viking King" as a title is a bit of a stretch. Oct 31, 2016 at 21:57
  • There's nothing wrong with omitting the article here, but doing so makes the phrase sound like headlinese: Viking King Harald Bluetooth Storms Norway! Oct 31, 2016 at 22:08
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    @P.E.Dant Do you know why this has been marked as a duplicate of a question asking about bare role noun phrases? Nov 1, 2016 at 15:36
  • When I looked at the proposed dupe, the issue seemed the same: omit or include the def. article before "Viking King Harald Bluetooth" in this q, and before "caliph and 'leader for Muslims everywhere' " in the dupe. The accepted answer seems to me useful for this q as well, but I'm happy to be convinced otherwise. Nov 1, 2016 at 19:38
  • Because the direct article is sometimes used to introduce the topic of the upcoming discourse. This is the case here. Nov 2, 2016 at 6:18

1 Answer 1


The definite article "the" is used for titles that are not necessarily unique, to indicate you mean a specific person who held that title (which you will define). There were many Viking kings, but the article wants to focus on the particular king named Harald Bluetooth.

To put it another way: This sentence is structured to draw attention to the fact that, of the many Viking kings, Harald is more notable than the rest in this context. They could have said:

Bluetooth is named for King Harald Bluetooth ...

which would have been perfectly fine, because there's only one of him. Once they add "Viking" it makes it less specific, and while it would also have been fine to leave out the definite article, it sounds more natural to use "the" to return focus to this one (among many).

More about English articles

  • 1
    They could also have said "... named for Viking Harald Bluetooth" ... The reference to Harald Bluetooth, whether or not prefaced by "Viking" is sufficiently unique. In fact, this is a matter of style.
    – Robusto
    Nov 1, 2016 at 1:04
  • @Robusto I personally would write the Viking Harald Bluetooth, since there have been many Vikings. But I agree it's a question of style.
    – Andrew
    Nov 1, 2016 at 5:14

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