Paraprosdokian Headlines

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg


There's a well-known (and possibly made-up) newspaper headline:

 
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids

 

What's going on here?

 

Is it a case of teachers hitting indolent students or of teachers asking for better wages?

 

It's an instance of the malleability of the language that some words can act like one of those flip animations: what you see depends on what angle you see it from.

 

In the above headline words take either of two roles (strike: noun/verb, idle: verb/adjective).

 

Here are a couple of other examples:

 

Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead

 
British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands


Newspaper editors often have to come up with succinct headlines at short notice.

 

You can't fault them for having a little fun on the job.

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