Shock, horror, probe! Words on the way out

Shock, horror, probe! Words on the way out

Posted January 1st, 2012 by debritz

I believe the much-heralded death of newspapers is a long way off -- but it has occurred to me that, when newsprint does disappear, so, too, will a wonderful slice of modern English usage.

I'm thinking about "headline words": impactful, monosyllabic alternatives to words in more common usage that have the advantage of being short enough to fit into the small amount of space provided by tabloid newspapers.

Since web-page designs are often more flexible, and the common online practice is to use a lot of words in headings for search-engine-optimisation purposes, it's likely that many headline words are on the way out.

Here are some examples:

Hike: as in "price hike". (The more common word "rise" has the same letter count, but hike conveys more urgency, or even sinister undertones.)

Raft: not your basic boat, but a "raft of new laws".

Bid: attempt. Often used as a verb, as in "Brett bids for title."

Probe: inquiry.

Grab: theft (real, or as a result of a tax hike).

Nab: when "grab" is too long.

Lash, slam, blast: to criticise.