Posted by: Jack Henry | May 12, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Crash blossoms

Good morning!

As promised weeks ago, I have another term from that was new to me and I thought I would share it with all y’all. Today’s term is crash blossom. A crash blossom is an ambiguously worded news headline that can lead to confusion or laughter. Crash blossoms are generally due to space restrictions for article titles. They might start out a little too long, or not exciting enough to grab the reader’s eye, but by over-editing, you can end up with some crazy headlines. Over the years, many of you have sent me your local versions of crash blossoms, which are always amusing.

The term crash blossom comes from a newspaper title about an airplane crash. From the New York Times Magazine:

For years, there was no good name for these double-take headlines. Last August, however, one emerged in the Testy Copy Editors online discussion forum. Mike O’Connell, an American editor based in Sapporo, Japan, spotted the headline “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” and wondered, “What’s a crash blossom?”

Another participant in the forum, Dan Bloom, suggested that “crash blossoms” could be used as a label for such infelicitous headlines that encourage alternate readings, and news of the neologism quickly spread.

And now, for some crash blossom examples (titles formatted differently according to different style guides):

§ Doctors Help Bee Sting Victims

§ Dead Man Remains Discovered by Police

§ Party Head Eyes Flexing Muscles by Handing Arms to Foot Soldiers

§ Giant Waves Down Queen Mary’s Funnel

§ MacArthur Flies Back to Front

§ Eighth Army Push Bottles Up Germans

§ Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

§ Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge

§ Infant pulled from wrecked car involved in short police pursuit

§ McDonald’s fries the holy grail for potato farmers

§ Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests

§ Genetic Engineering Splits Scientists

§ Girl found alive in France murders car

§ Trump demands dog “Dreamers” deal

§ Death Happens Slower Than Thought

§ Orthodox Jew Flies in Plane Covered in Huge Plastic Bag, Possibly to Avoid Cemetery Flyover

§ Lance Armstrong Admits Doping in Oprah Winfrey Interview

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her

Technical Editor, Advisory

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