Newspaper Headlines

Newspaper Headlines often include key words that may or may not be commonly used. They are chosen because they are shorter and require less space and also because of the effect that they may produce on the learners. Headlines are also written in a special style which basically consist of simplifying the grammar.

Therefore, in headlines, we usually find:

  1. Short words instead of long ones and abreviations.
  2. Dramatic adjectives and adverbs to attract readers attention.
  3. Active verbs.
  4. Cultural references.
  5. A very condensed structure:
  • articles and verb the "to be" are frequently omitted;
  • verbs are simplified:
    - the present simple refers to the present or the past;
    - the infinitive refers to the future;
    - the verb "to be" is also omitted in the passive and in continuous forms;
    - the progressive -ing form is used to show something that is developing.
  • nouns and adjectives are grouped together without any verbs or conjunctions.

Following is a list of words that often appear in headlines and the meaning they usually have in this context:

Headline word Meaning
accord (n) agreement
aid (n/v) assist/ assistance
axe (v) cut, destroy
awe (v) veneration
back (v) support
ban (n/v) prohibition
bar (n/v) exclude, prohibit
bid (n) attempt
blast (n) explosion
blaze (n) fire
blow (n) injury/disappointment
boom (n/v) sudden beneficial increase
boost (n/v) help, incentive
bring (v) to cause, result in
bug (n) disease, virus
call (for) (n/v) demand
clash (n/v) argument, conflict
cop (n) policeman
coup (n) revolution, change in government
crook (n) criminal
curb (n/v) restrain, limit
cut (n/v) reduction
deal (n) agreement
drama (n) dramatic action,
drive (n) campaign, effort
envoy (n) diplomat
exit (n/v) leave
fear (n/v) anxious expectations
flee (v)
escape rapidly
gems (n) jewels
go (v) be sold or knock down
go-ahead (n) approval
gunman (n) a man with a gun
hail (v)
celebrate, acclaim
halt (n/v) stop
hammer (v) beat
haul (n/v) large quantity that has been stolen
head (n/v) direct, lead
hit (v) affect badly
hold (v) detain, keep in police custody
hurdle (n) obstacle
jail (n/v) prison
jet (n)
jobless (adj) unemployed
key (adj) essential, vital
kid (n) child
killing (n) murder
link (n/v) connection
loom (v) approach (of something threatening)
mob (n) mafia/ uncontrolled crowd
net (v) to capture
no (n) refusal, rejection
ordeal (n) unpleasant experience
oust (v) push out, replace
output (n) production
pact (n) agreement, treaty
peril (n) danger
pledge (n/v) promise
plea (n) strong request
poll (n) election, public survey
press (v) to insist on something
press for (v) demand, ask for
probe (n/v) investigate
quit (v) leave, resign
quiz (v) interrogate
raid (n/v) attack, robbery
riddle (n) mystery
row (n) argument, disagreement
scare (n) alarm
seek (v) request
shock (n) surprising revelation
slam (v) criticise severely
slash (v) reduce
smash (v) destroy
snub (v) reject, turn down
soar (v) increase dramatically
spark (v)
cause, produce
split (n/v) divide
squeeze (n/v) shortage, scarcity
storm (n) violent disagreement
strife (n) conflict
sue (v) accuse, appeal
switch (n/v) change, deviation
swoop (n/v) sudden attack or raid
talks (n) discussions
threat (n) menace
toll (n) number of people killed
top (n) exceed
urge (v)
recommend strongly
vow (n/v)
promise, threaten
walkout (n) strike
wed (v) wedding
weep (v) cry, mourn
win (v) gain, achieve
woe (n) misfortune
woo (v) try to win the favour of

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Isabel Pérez Torres