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Common Newspaper Words

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Certain words are far more common in newspapers than they are in everyday use. With thanks to Terry Pratchett. In the case of some of the shorter ones, this may be due to the need for headlines that will fit in the columns.

  • Fracas ("Three hospitalised in town centre fracas")
  • Fury/Rage/Outrage (disagreement)
  • Mull
  • Romp (as in "three-in-a-bed sex romp")
  • Rumpus ("Bin Strike Rumpus enters sixth week")
  • "Sex act" (usually a euphemism for oral sex)
  • Advertisement:
  • Feted
  • Lauded
  • Slay
  • Flap
  • Nab
  • Vie
  • Row
  • Ire
  • Inks
  • Slammed
  • Tot (a small child, the word carrying distinct overtones of cherubic innocence, so they like to use it for stories in which horrific things happen to children.)
  • Vowed (when people haven't actually taken vows)
  • Quizzed (in the sense of being questioned by the police)
  • Wed
  • Roared
  • Tired and emotional (libel laws make it unsafe to say someone was drunk without actually administering an alcohol test, so this substitutes. Usually in quote marks, just so no-one can be in any doubt as to what is meant.)
  • Blasted ("Angry fans blast team")
  • Poised (when a newspaper wishes to report an event that has not happened at the time of writing, but is expected to occur imminently - "Beckham poised to sign new contract")
  • So-and-so's baby joy (standard tabloid headline for any story involving a celebrity who's pregnant or has recently given birth)
  • Advertisement:
  • Tout
  • Cash
  • Back (as in "support")
  • Scare (noun)
  • Probe
  • Woe
  • Spar
  • Bid (for "attempt")
  • Aims to
  • Eye (verb)
  • Urge
  • Linked
  • Weighs
  • Okay (verb)
  • Unveil
  • Draws (as in "attracts")
  • Ready (verb)
  • Scrutiny
  • For statistics, "hits," "tops," "climbs to," "dips to," "lags," "surges," "spikes," "tumbles," "flops," etc.
  • Assets (breasts)
  • Charms (breasts)
  • Manhood (penis)
  • Roly-poly
  • Funnyman (for comedian)
  • Dubbed (eg John and Edward, dubbed "Jedward")
  • Alleged (either there really is no concrete proof of something, or the editor is being forced to tack 'alleged' on there even when the one who committed the crime is extremely obvious — and even that can still be libelous. It can also be used in articles where Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide" comes into play.)
  • Suspect (related to the above, used whether the culprit of a crime is obvious or not)
  • Jibe (a personal insult, usually one that's been or in the process of being blown out of all proportion.)
  • Advertisement:
  • Colorful racing identity
  • Embattled
  • Gunman
  • Extremist (a politician we don't like)
  • Moderate (a politician we do like)

See also Variety's copyrighted dictionary of its "slanguage" terms at

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