So I've noticed a pattern lately on the TheOnion.com of omitting 'is' from their headlines. I get shortening headlines but I can't say this pattern is familiar to me. It strikes me as obtuse and hard to read.

Here are some links of examples I could drum up. There are many more:

Report: It A Miracle Nothing Has Punctured Your Eye Yet (9-25-2017)

Hope Hicks Praying She Not Still in Same Shitty Job By Time She Hits 30 (9-15-2017)

Man Must Think It Enough to Wear Blackhawks Jersey at Cubs Game (9-12-2017)

Are they just trolling? Is this accepted journalistic style? Is there a name for this?

  • The Onion is satirical. One of the things they satirize is the stupid headlines used in, eg, grocery store checkout rags.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 20:56
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    The Onion is a satire site. One of the things they satirize is journalistic style, including headlinese that would probably not appear in a real publication, but are instantly recognizable as such.
    – choster
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 20:58
  • They're satirical but it's still well written and adheres to grammar conventions. If anything the style and linguistic conventions of the site are standard. Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 21:12
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    @EdwinAshworth - Ah, so they're responsible for the honey be colony collapse!!
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 21:36
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    @Hot Licks They'll be sorely missed on ELU: their spelling was legendary. Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


It's standard practice to omit to be from headlines, but what is weird about the Onion is they put a kind of isolated subject in there. normal headlines might be:

*A miracle nothing has punctured your eye yet

*Hope Hicks prays not to be in same job...

*Man thinks wearing Blackhawks jersey to Cuba game acceptable

What that last one shows is that the ugly inclusion of a subject makes for a more flexible sentence structure. Unless there are some terribly written and infamous magazines in the US I think this flexibility rather than parodying bad headline style is the most likely cause.

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