Educational note from Ms. Nitpicker: note that while some of these are just inadvertently stupid, some may only be urban legends, and a few may be deliberate attempts at humor, some are caused by grammatical errors that can easily be fixed. For example, in "Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years," if the modifying phrases had been put first, it would be "For Second Time in 10 Years, Killer Sentenced to Die," the headline would be clearer, though less funny. On the positive side, they usually don't contain spelling errors, except in the case of classified ads. Thinking before writing, and editing before printing, would also help. (Where are the good beta readers when we need them?)
- 4-H Girls Win Prizes for Fat Calves
- After Detour to California Shuttle Returns to Earth
- Air Head Fired
- Arson Suspect is Held in Massachusetts Fire
- Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
- Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
- Bank Drive-in Window Blocked by Board
- Big Ugly Woman Wins Beauty Pageant (Newspaper in town of Big Ugly, WV)
- Blind Bishop Appointed to See
- Body Search Reveals $4,000 in Crack (from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot, Michigan)
- British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
- British Union Finds Dwarfs in Short Supply
- Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy (from the Louisville Courier Journal)
- Deaf College Opens Doors to Hearing
- Dealers Will Hear Car Talk at Noon
- Deer Kill 17,328 (Damn it, who keeps selling guns to those deer?)
- Disciples of Christ Name Interim Leader (from Los Angeles Times) (Apparently they got tired of waiting for Christ to return...)
- Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
- Drunken Drivers Paid $1000 in `84. (They were paid for being drunk? I want that job!)
- Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
- Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax (First it's the deer, now it's the cows. Disarm those cows now!)
- Eye Drops off Shelf
- Farmer Bill Dies in House
- Fund Set Up for Beating Victim's Kin
- Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors (from the Providence Journal)(They grow 'em bic in Providence.)
- Include your Children When Baking Cookies
- Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
- Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
- Jerk Injures Neck, Wins Award (from the Buffalo News)
- Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
- Kids Make Nutritious Snacks (Yum! Eat those kids, and reduce the population.)
- Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years (from the Post News)
- L.A. Voters Approve Urban Renewal By Landslide
- Lack of brains hinders research (The Columbus Dispatch, April 16)
- Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees
- Lawyer Says Client is Not That Guilty
- Lawyers Give Poor Free Legal Advice (In my experience, they give poor paid legal advice, too.)
- Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests
- Legislator Wants Tougher Death Penalty (Is he suggesting adding torture and quartering to it?)
- Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half (From the Valley News)
- Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
- Man Jumps Off Bridge. Neither Jumper nor Body Found
- Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing (from The Sun)
- Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
- March Planned For Next August
- Messiah Climaxes In Chorus Of Hallelujahs (The Anchorage, Alaska Times)
- Milk Drinkers are Turning to Powder
- Miners Refuse to Work After Death
- Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
- New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
- New Vaccine may Contain Rabies
- Nicaragua Sets Goal to Wipe Out Literacy (And based on this headline, they are succeeding.)
- Old School Pillars are Replaced by Alumni
- Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over (from The Overland News)
- Patient At Death's Door--Doctors Pull Him Through
- Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
- Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
- Prosecutor Releases Probe into Undersheriff (Bet that hurt!)
- Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
- Publicize Your Business Absolutely Free! Just send $6.00 (Entrepreneur Magazine ad)
- Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped (from The Times, in the U.K.)
- Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
- Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
- Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
- Sex Education Delayed, Teachers Request Training
- Shot Off Woman's Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
- Some Pieces of Rock Hudson Sold at Auction
- Soviet Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again
- Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
- Stadium Air Conditioning Fails--Fans Protest
- Steals Clock, Faces Time
- Stiff Opposition Expected to Casketless Funeral Plan (Those bodies, always complaining...)
- Stolen Painting Found by Tree
- Stud Tires Out
- Study: Long-Term Marijuana Use Harms Mermory (from Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northhampton, Massachusetts) Apparently it's rough on spelling, too.)
- Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents (Thus making them Siamese twins parents...?)
- Teacher Strikes Idle Kids (Mo less than they deserve...)
- Tiger Woods Plays With Own Balls, Nike Says
- Two Convicts Evade Noose, Jury Hung (Headline from the Oakland Tribune)
- Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter (This shortage of checkout workers must be ended.)
- Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies
- Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead (In the cemetery? Weren't they already dead?)
- War Dims Hope for Peace
- Woman Improving After Fatal Crash
- Workers Finish Boring Sewer Tunnel (Atlanta Journal Constitution headline) (Ever drill an INTERESTING sewer tunnel?)
DUH! or, THE KNACK FOR STATING THE OBVIOUS
Alcohol Ads Promote Drinking (The Hartford Courant, November 18)
Alcohol Frequently Seen In Cases (from the Colorado Daily News)
Bible Church's Focus is the Bible (Saint Augustine Record, Florida, December 3, 1994)
Child's Death Ruins Couple's Holiday
Couple Slain, Police Suspect Homicide
Fish Lurk in Streams (Rochester, New York, Democrat & Chronicle, January 29)
Heat Wave Linked to Temperatures (from Daily Sun Post)
If Strike isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
Infertility Unlikely To Be Passed On (from the Montgomery Advertiser )
Official: Only Rain Will Cure Drought (from The Herald-News, Westpost, Massachusetts)
Police: Body Cavity Search Reveals Crack (La Crosse (Wisc.) Tribune headline)
Plot to Kill Officer had Vicious Side (from The Chicago Tribune)
Prosecution Paints O.J. as a Wife-Killer (from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, January 25)
Putting Mattress On Floor Prevents Fall From Bed (from the Associated Press)
Sadness Is No. 1 Reason Men And Women Cry (from Omaha World Herald)
Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
Study Finds Sex, Pregnancy Link (Cornell Daily Sun, December 7, 1995)
Teenage Girls Often Have Babies Fathered by Men (The Sunday Oregonian, September 24)
BAD NEWSPAPER ADS
- 3-year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.
- '83 Toyota hunchback -- $2000
- Amana washer $100. Owned by clean bachelor who seldom washed.
- And now, the Superstore unequaled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivaled inconvenience.
- Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.
- Bill's septic cleaning "we haul American made products"
- Christmas tag sale. Handmade gifts for the hard to find person.
- Creative daily specials, including select offerings of beef, foul, fresh vagetables, salads, quiche.
- Dinner Special-Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00
- Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.
- Exercise equipment: queen size mattress & box spring -$175.
- For Rent: 6 room hated apartment.
- For sale: a quilted high chair that can be made into a table, pottie chair, rocking horse, refrigerator, spring coat, size 8 and fur collar.
- For sale. Three canaries of undermined sex.
- For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.
- For sale: lee majors (6 million dollar man)$50
- Free puppies...part German shepherd part dog
- Free: farm kittens. ready to eat.
- German shepherd. 85 lbs. neutered. speaks German. free.
- Get rid of aunts. Zap does the job in 24 hours.
- Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.
- Great Dames for sale.
- Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition.
- Hummels largest selection ever "if it's in stock, we have it!"
- Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.
- Man, honest. Will take anything.
- Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.
- Mother's helper--peasant working conditions.
- Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.
- Offer expires December or while supplies last
- Our bikinis are exciting. They are simply the tops.
- Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included.
- Our sofa seats the whole mob and it's made of 100% Italian leather.
- See ladies blouses. 50% off!
- Semi-Annual after-Christmas Sale.
- Snow blower for sale...only used on snowy days.
- Soft & genital bath tissues or facial tissue 89 cents
- Star Wars job of the hut -- $15
- Stock up and save. Limit: one.
- Tired of cleaning yourself. Let me do it.
- Toaster: A gift that every member of the family appreciates. Automatically burns toast.
- Used Cars: Why go elsewhere to be cheated. Come here first.
- Vacation Special: have your home exterminated.
- Wanted. Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.
- Wanted: Preparer of food. Must be dependable, like the food business, and be willing to get hands dirty.
- Wanted. Widower with school age children requires person to assume general housekeeping duties. Must be capable of contributing to growth of family.
- Wanted: Hair cutter. Excellent growth potential.
- We build bodies that last a lifetime.
- We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.
- We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.
Examples from the book MORE ANGUISHED ENGLISH by Richard Lederer
Artie's Restaurant and Yogurt Parlor: "An Alternative to Good Eating."
Channel 16 temporarily off the air due to technical improvements
FOR SALE: Braille dictionary. Must see to appreciate! call Jerry
FOR SALE: Instant coffee table
MUST SELL: 3 grave spaces in Laureland, very reasonable. Plus air conditioner.
PART-TIME HELP WANTED. Must have creative skills, drivers license and car with outgoing personality
Remember, you get what you pay for. And at Hub Furniture Store, you pay less.
SECRETARIAL/CLERICAL -- Excellent word processing & typing skills. Conscious, creative and detail oriented
The Macon County Humane Society offers a free spay/neutering to senior citizens if they adopt an animal out of the animal shelter.
Why not have the kids shot for Easter, or have a family portrait taken? What have you got to lose?
Some clever soul has spared Ms. Nitpicker the effort by picking apart the linguistic problems in headlines like those above. Visit HUMOROUS (BUT REAL) NEWSPAPER HEADLINES for the explanations.
Laugh at MORE EXAMPLES OF BAD WRITING
William Safire's Guide to Writing
President George W. Bush mangles speech.
Reasons to Hate the English Language
Medical malpractice mangles the English language at Grammatically Infirm Medical English
Learn HOW TO WRITE ALMOST READABLE FAN FICTION with MS. NITPICKER (including hideous examples of bad writing)
I'm thoroughly chastened, and want to return to the main page and perhaps yell at Ms. Nitpicker.
Copyright © 1999 - 2013, Jane A. Leavell. All rights reserved.