Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Santayana on the copy desk

Those who do not learn from the headline mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.

A reader forwards this Denver Post headline:

Bar as a noun meaning a saloon is widely recognized. But it is also a verb much favored in headlinese meaning “prohibit.”

The same ambiguity crops up in a classic headline collected in one of the Columbia Journalism Review’s features of defective headlines:

Minneapolis bars putting leaves in street

The errors of the past repay study.


  1. I've noticed this a lot, too, and always wonder why they don't just use "bans" instead.

  2. The story about the North African who prohibited saloons:

    Berber bars bars.

  3. The bar is also a fish, which was my first reading of this!

  4. I read the first "bar" as saloon and didn't even consider the other meaning. Maybe I need to bar myself from bars.

  5. Bars is also how I pronounce "bears," so just imagine my confusion.