Confusing Headlines

The new term “crash blossom” refers to a newspaper headline that can be read in two ways. It derives from the following headline about a air crash in Japan: “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms.” The article was about a violinist whose successful career took off shortly after his father had died in a JAL crash. But the headline could have had you wondering what in the world is a crash blossom. The problem of course is that blossom could be taken as a noun or as a verb.
“Crash blossoms” can serve as a vehicle for reinforcing the difference between nouns and verbs as well as the importance of taking context into account when reading.
Have your students identify the two possible meanings of the following headlines.

  • Gator Attacks Puzzle Experts
  • Milk Drinkers Turn to Powder
  • Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
  • Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
  • Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge

Have your students look for their own examples to bring to class.