Pseudo-Applied Linguistics Series

Funny Newspaper Headlines

Ciarán P. McCarthy
Director of Studies at The Salesian English Language Centre, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

They just don't read right...

Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One.

Deaf Mute Gets New Hearing in Killing.

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers.

House Passes Gas Tax on to Senate.

Stiff Opposition Expected to Casketless Funeral Plan.

Two Convicts Evade Noose, Jury Hung.

William Kelly was Fed Secretary.

Milk Drinkers are Turning to Powder.

Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should be Belted.

Quarter of a Million Chinese Live on Water.

Farmer Bill Dies in House.

Iraqi Head Seeks Arms.

While Others Become unintentionally suggestive...

Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped.

Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?

Panda Mating Fails - Veterinarian Takes Over.

NJ Judge to Rule on Nude Beach.

Child's Stool Great for Use in Garden.

Dr. Ruth to Talk About Sex with Newspaper Editors.

Organ Festival Ends in Smashing Climax.

Telegraphic grammar often botches other headlines:

Eye Drops Off Shelf.

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim.

Dealers Will Hear Car Talk at Noon.

Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Axe.

Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests.

Miners Refuse to Work after Death.

Two Soviet Ships Collide - One Dies.

Two Sisters Reunite after Eighteen Years at Checkout Counter.

Once in a while, a botched headline takes on a meaning opposite to the one intended:

Never Withhold Herpes from Loved One.

Nicaragua Sets Goal to Wipe Out Literacy.

Drunk Drivers Paid $1,000 in 1984.

Autos Killing 110 a Day, Let's Resolve to Do Better.

Sometimes newspaper editors state the obvious:

If Strike isn't Settled Quickly it may Last a While.

War Dims Hope for Peace.

Smokers are Productive, but Death Cuts Efficiency.

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures.

Child's Death Ruins Couple's Holiday.

Blind Woman Gets New Kidney from Dad she Hasn't Seen in years.

Man is Fatally Slain.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say.

Death Causes Loneliness, Feeling of Isolation.

And sometimes the less obvious:

The Jakarta Post came up with "The Chicken Has Been Fried" referring to a sarcastic gift of a chicken from some demonstrating students to an extremely corrupt minister. Amazingly it was brought up in the Indonesian parliment.

Thanks to Geoff for this one.

Also, thanks to Charles Kelly at the ITESLJ for useful suggestions.

If you have additions, e-mail me at

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