What does "I dub the unforgiven" exacly mean.

If dub is used as a transitive verb meaning : "to call by a distinctive title, epithet, or nickname", it should be "I'm dubbed the unforgiven".

I don't get it.
I am going to go through the whole song in order to answer your question as fully as possible. The song is about the songwriter James Hetfeild's childhood and his mother, who died from cancer. Since his parents didn't believe in science, they didn't take her to the hospital to give her the proper treatment, so she died.

New blood joins this earth

(James is born)
And quickly he's subdued

(He is 'brought under control' by his religious parents)
Through constant pained disgrace
The young boy learns their rules

(He doesn't believe the same as them, but he goes through life as they want him to)

With time the child draws in
This whipping boy done wrong
Deprived of all his thoughts

(All of his own thoughts are being taken away and replaced by the predestined religious opinions and beliefs of his parents)
The young man struggles on and on he's known

(He tries to fight back)
A vow unto his own
That never from this day
His will they'll take away-eay
(He promises himself that he will always have his own free mind)

What I've felt
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown

(because of his parents, he could never really do his best)
Never be
Never see
Won't see what might have been

(Now they will never know what he could have become if they had just let him)
What I've felt
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown
Never free
Never me
So I dub the(e) unforgiven

(He labels his parents as The Unforgiven, since he will never be able to forgive them for how they brainwashed him and took away his dreams, and killed his mother. Therfore he dubs THEE[as in you, he is talking to his parents] THE unforgiven. It is a word pun, just like in The Unforgiven II)

They dedicate their lives
To running all of his

(All they care about is that he turns out they way they want him to)
He tries to please them all

(He loves his parents, so he tries to meet them in the middle)
This bitter man he is
Throughout his life the same
He's battled constantly

(He has tried to fight them back or reach an agreement)
This fight he cannot win

(But there is no way he can change their minds)
A tired man they see no longer cares

(He stops trying)
The old man then prepares
To die regretfully
That old man here is me

(He gives up and just awaits to end his worthless life)

I know that that was a bit of a long answer, but I hope that you are not as puzzled anymore now that I have broken the whole song down for you. In conclusion, it is both 'Thee' and 'The' Unforgiven.

Best wishes,


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Don't know the song but could it be 'I dub thee unforgiven', which then makes sense.
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I've googled around for two sentences and I've found it both ways.

"I dub the unforgiven" and "I dub thee unforgiven".

Just by hearing it, there's no way of difference the two senteces I guess.
so the only way is by meaning?

and if it were "I dub thee unforgiven" ? What would it mean?

I'm puzzled (or baffled?)
Hello Kayaker

There are only two parties in the song, as I understand it:
(1) the singer and (2) 'everyone else'.

(1) If the singer is addressing himself, when he says 'I dub
thee unforgiven', we are left with the question: 'unforgiven
by whom?'

The answer 'by everyone else' doesn't make sense, because
the singer has already explained that 'everyone else' made
him a 'whipping boy' etc.

But the answer 'by himself' is possible, i.e. he can't
forgive himself for how things have turned out (= Option A).

(2) If the singer is addressing 'everyone else', the 'unforgiving
party' is the singer himself, i.e. he's not going to forgive
'everyone else' for what appears to have been a rough
70 years or so (= Option B).

Option B seems the more likely, though it is strange to address
'everyone else' as 'thee'. Perhaps he's thinking of them as
a single entity.

Or maybe the singer was stringing phrases together
at random (= Option C).

('Thee' in a context of leather and illicit substances may sound
odd. But the singer was presumably alluding to the phrase
'I dub thee knight', which is used by British monarchs when
bestowing knighthoods on middle-aged businessmen.)

This is just a classic american song where the artist just needs a title or something in the song that needs to rhyme with something else. It's definitly "I dub THE unforgiven" One reason why it is definitly the and not thee is because not many American songs have thee in them they just say me or I.
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Hello Rubble

In that case we have a different problem.

A dubbing has to have three things: .
If it is in fact 'I dub the unforgiven', we have the 'I dub' and the
'someone', but we don't have the 'something'. (Presumably he's
not dubbing 'the unforgiven' 'unforgiven'. They're that already.
Unless he has a very short memory span.)

'Not many songs have thee in them': quite true. But elsewhere
Metallica use 'ye' and 'thou'. 'Wolf and Man' on the same album
has 'seek the wolf in thyself'. Our boys like a bit of archaicism.

Towards the end of the song, the lyric does seem to change
to 'the unforgiven', which (as you say) is the title. No doubt
there were some heated exchanges in the Metallica tour bus
as to the propriety of this grammatical infringement. But I
imagine someone said "no problem: implicit dubbee"; after
which everyone went back to reading their Viking sagas.

MrP (Wolf King of Garth)

So, is it "the unforgiven" or "thee unforgiven" or what?

Now I'm more puzzled than before Emotion: smile
Hello Kayaker

I would say in the song itself it's 'thee', where 'thee' = 'you', i.e. all the people who have been 'labeling' him, making him a 'whipping boy', etc.

In the title, it's 'The Unforgiven', i.e. 'the people I haven't forgiven'.

Some transcriptions of the lyrics seem to make the last 'thee unforgiven' into 'the unforgiven', as if at that point they're simply singing the title, as Rubble suggests. But by then it's pretty well established who the 'unforgiven' are.

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So, it is "I dub thee unforgiven".

which is the same that "I dub you unforgiven"

-> I label you all unforgiven.
-> I won't forgive you for all you have done to me

Is that right?

Am I just plain dumb or is this a little bit confusing?

... maybe both Emotion: wink
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