I am familiar with the phrase Shock Horror! which is usually used ironically to announce something that is not, in fact, at all surprising.

I believe it derives from the style of tabloid newspaper headlines and first occurred in the 80s, but I am wondering if there was a specific headline that actually used these words, or whether it is just an invention.

I have searched it, but nothing came up.


1 Answer 1


shock horror It appears the British have authorship of this. From FumbleFingers:

The earliest written instance of this collocation with OP's specific sense that I can find is from 1968: A team of Private Eye drunks recently investigated the great Mirror shock horror probe. The satirical UK magazine Private Eye is certainly the publication I associate most with the usage - in that example they were lampooning the [Sunday] Mirror's supposed tendency to go overboard with their headlines, but at the time you'd never have seen Shock Horror used together in a real headline.

And the definition from Collins Dictionary:

A shock horror story is presented in a way that is intended to cause great shock or anger. "The media is full of shock-horror headlines about under-age crime".

an exclamation You can say shock horror! in reaction to something that other people may find shocking or surprising, to indicate that you do not find it shocking or surprising at all.

[humorous, informal, feelings] I felt intellectually superior despite–shock horror–my lack of qualifications.

shock-horror in British

facetious (esp of newspaper headlines) sensationalistic

And word usage showing its definable 'birth' in recent times.

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