Crash Blossom


Senior Member
AE, Español
Term: Crash Blossom

Your definition or explanation: A headline that has been edited so severely that it can be understood in multiple ways, leading to some humorous or puzzling meanings.

Reading AP headlines will make one wonder if some crash blossoms aren't actually purposefully perpetrated.

One or more places you have seen the term:

One of my favorite crash blossoms is this gem from the Associated Press, first noted by the Yale linguistics professor Stephen R. Anderson last September: “McDonald’s Fries the Holy Grail for Potato Farmers.”
Ben Zimmer, "Crash Blossoms," On Language Column, , The New York Times January 27, 2010

Have you looked for this term or meaning in dictionaries, and not found it? YesExamples listed in the article include:

  • “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” - An article about a relative of a victim of the crush succeeding as a musician, this title is the origin of the phrase.
  • “British Left Waffles on Falklands”
  • “Giant Waves Down Queen Mary’s Funnel”
  • “MacArthur Flies Back to Front”
  • “Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim”
  • “Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge"
One mention of crash blossoms in the Language Log blog cites this example: "White House Says Bears Part of Blame for Senate Loss"
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Here is the title of the January 3, 2010 column of headsup: the blog, whose specialty is commenting on heds (headlines):
    Crash blossoms: Care and feeding

    [The example discussed is 2009 Homicides, the headline of a story that appeared in the Chicago Tribune early in January]​
    "Crash blossom" is discussed as a neologism in on Aug. 18, 2009. The discussion begins with the headline bibliolept cites in his post “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms”.

    Edit: Deletion.
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