If you have ever been confused by the language of newspaper or TV news headlines, this post is for you. We’ll shed light on the style and provide a couple of exercises for practice.
Certain words are used very often in newspaper headlines because they are short (e.g. big, oust, plea, quit) or sound dramatic (e.g. blast, boost). Some of these words are not common in ordinary language or are used in a different sense. Headlines also omit certain words and use colloquial expressions, abbreviations and different verb tenses, e.g. “STAR TO WED” (A film star is going to get married).
|Mother’s plea to kidnappers||plea (formal) – an urgent and emotional request|
|Arms deal probe||arms (formal) – weapons, especially those used by the armed forces|
probe – an investigation into something
|Ten-hour ordeal for tourists||ordeal – a difficult or unpleasant experience|
|Senate urgest caution||to urge something – to forcefully recommend something|
|Bid to oust rail chief|| bid – an attempt|
to oust somebody (out of something) – to force somebody out of a job or position
|Bomb blast wrecks factory|| blast – an explosion|
to wreck something – to destroy or badly damage something
|Boost for voters||boost – a thing that helps or encourages something|
|Injury blow for United||blow – bad news (when something unfortunate has happened)|
|New flood alert||alert – a warning|
|Talks on brink of collapse||If something is on the brink of something, it has reached a point where it is about to happen (often something very bad).|
|PM rules out referendum||to rule something out – to reject the possibility of something|
For each of the headlines, find the sentence which expresses it as it would appear in an ordinary news announcement. Click the link here to do the exercise.
- to rig sth. (e.g. a poll) – to influence something such as an election in a dishonest way in order to produce a particular result
- reshuffle – the process of changing the jobs or responsibilities of the people in a particular group or organization
- to gag sb. – to officially prevent a person, newspaper etc. from talking about or publishing something
- haul – an amount of things that are stolen at the same time
- swoop – a sudden and unexpected attack on a place, especially by police
Match the words from the headlines above with their meanings. Click the link here to do the exercise.
Materials used: “Advanced Vocabulary and Idioms” by B.J. Thomas; “Oxford Word Skills. Advanced” by R.Gairns and S.Reman