"Suppose you were researching a book on the history of Boeing B-17."

"Suppose you were researching a book on the history of the Boeing B-17."

Which of those sentences sounds more complete and correct and natural?

Presumably the latter.

Why then, on an hour-long PBS documentary on the Concorde, were people constantly referencing "Concorde" this and "Concorde" that, as opposed to speaking of "the Concorde"?

Check out the "Concorde" tag on ASE for more examples of this practice (as well as some counter-examples).


2 Answers 2


The Wikipedia article about Concorde confirms that the name is typically used without an indefinite or definite article, at least in British English:

Concorde also acquired an unusual nomenclature for an aircraft. In common usage in the United Kingdom, the type is known as "Concorde" without an article, rather than "the Concorde" or "a Concorde".

The two sources given for this sentence (BBC and British Airways) also consistently use Concorde without an article, but unfortunately they don't explain why.

I remember hearing in a documentary that the British developers omitted the article to highlight how special the aircraft was, but I cannot find a source for that. The closest I found is this Engineering and Technology article:

Unlike almost every other commercial airliner, Concorde sparked such affection that ‘she’ needed no preceding definite article or proceeding marquee number.

So the reason is probably related to how special the aircraft was and how affectionately the people working on the project felt about her.

By the way, in French Concorde is used with an article: le Concorde (see e.g. the French Wikipedia article).

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    $\begingroup$ Best answer so far-- if anyone has more info as to "why", keep in mind that the "accept" check mark can always be re-assigned -- $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2023 at 16:41

Ultimately it was the chosen name for the project and since it was a bi-lingual project the name was used in by both french and english sides working on it (7:40 into the video), as such the Definitive Article is commonly dropped when talking about it. It also derives from the word agreement and prior to the actually aircraft being built everyone was simply working on an undersigned agreement to build a plane.

The name Concorde was chosen as, in both French and English (as "Concord"), the word means agreement. The plane was to be called Concorde in both France and Britain. However British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, decided to remove the "e" from the end, as he was annoyed that his French counterpart, Charles de Gaulle, cancelled a meeting with him due to having a cold. The British government's Minister for Technology, Tony Benn, later replaced it, claiming that the "e" stood for Excellence, England, Europe and the Entente Cordial.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think he was asking "Why was it called Concorde", but rather " We refer to Concorde as just "Concorde" but other planes are referred to the Spitfire, the 747, the SR-71" etc etc. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Ives
    Sep 9, 2022 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @sophit Not really. The part of the answer you quoted about the definitive article, simply states that it was dropped, and the question is asking why it was dropped. The bulk of the answer - and the entirety of the quoted section - is really answering the unasked question "Why was it called Concord/Concorde and why the difference in spelling?" $\endgroup$
    – Steve Ives
    Jan 29, 2023 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ @sophit Yet we have 'The' Channel Tunnel, 'The' Eurofighter, 'The' Jaguar. I don't think there's any evidence that the 'the' is 'commonly dropped', and even if it were, there's still no explanation as to why in the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Ives
    Jan 29, 2023 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveIves: that sounds like an answer, you should post it 🖖 $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Jan 29, 2023 at 15:04

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