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A headline (/hedlaɪn/) is the large type summary of a newspaper article.[1]

Headlinese[edit | edit source]

Many, if not most, headlines are written in a register that tends to emphasise content words while de-emphasising grammar words.

  • Events that have happened are typically described using the present simple, even though they are in past time. For example, "Prince Harry pays back £2.4m for Frogmore Cottage renovation"[2]
  • Events that will happen in future time use an infinitive of purpose, e.g. "Austrian minister to travel to Iran amid nuclear tensions"[3]

Headlines in tabloid newspapers (and sometimes light-hearted articles in quality newspapers) often also incorporate slang, puns, and exophoric references to sayings such as song lyrics. Examples:

  • A pun - "Man who snatched wig will have toupee"[4] (toupee being a homophone with "to pay").
  • "The Liar, the Witch and the Wardrobe"[5] (referencing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis).
  • "Don’t Cry for Me Argie Cleaner" (referencing the song "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina" from the musical Evita.
  • "I’m Only Here for de Beers" a pun on the rhyme saying "I’m only here for the beer"
  • etc.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that a large amount of cultural information is frequently necessary to understand the "meaning" of the headline.

References[edit | edit source]