NPR logo Word Nerds Analyze Crash Blossoms

Word Nerds Analyze Crash Blossoms

I adore the unintentionally hilarious headline. One of my favorites, courtesy of the Guardian. "French Left Torn In Two Over EU Constitution.". This entry from Good, collects such weird sentences, and gives us a nice term for them.

Now there's a name for the phenomenon of ambiguously or bizarrely worded headlines: "crash blossoms," as suggested by a poster at the Testy Copy Editors site in response to the headline "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms."

Whoever crafted that nugget of nonsense was trying to say that the musician's career flourished after a plane crash, but the odd syntax and unintentional coinage of "crash blossoms" flummoxed readers. The example quickly mutated into a term, which was soon picked up by John McIntyre, the Language Loggers, and beyond.

Now, we can put the French back together again, despite the crash blossom.