Ugliest NY Times Headline Ever!!

The headline in today's lead New York Times story (page 1, column 8 top):

" Studies on Pupils Say Bad Behavior Is Not Dooming."

"Dooming" as an adjective?? In a New York Times headline? Aargh . . .

(And interestingly enough, the headline of the web version of the story was the grammatically less grotesque "Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say").

My 22-month-old daughter uses that word, too.

But the syntax is a bit different: "Daddy, what you dooming in the spacement?" So I'm sure it's a real word. But she disagrees with the NYT editors when using it as a verb.
11.13.2007 9:54pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I would have expected the headline writers to write: "Pupil studies: Bad behavior not dooming" or "Bad behavior not dooming, pupil studies say."
11.13.2007 10:36pm
Most amphibolous headline ever

Bill banning nude dancing on governor's desk
11.13.2007 10:42pm
TruePath (aka logicnazi) (mail) (www):
It might not be good grammar now but I kinda like it.

It really does have a great little kid sort of charm to it.
11.13.2007 11:14pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Typeface tyranny: All their one-column headlines must fill three lines and fit the space. They're using four typefaces, and the bad behavior one is the traditional all caps.
11.13.2007 11:36pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
I don't see what's wrong with it. The present participle is a perfectly valid adjective ("Burning Man", Far from the Madding Crowd), and "doom" is a perfectly valid verb ("Tribunes with their tongues doome men to death", "Nine for mortal men doomed to die"). What rule do you imagine this word violates?
11.13.2007 11:37pm
Logicman (mail):
It is terrible. I noticed it, too. Thanks.
11.14.2007 12:50am
Eugene Volokh (www):
I don't think it's bad grammar -- imagine "Studies on Pupils Say Bad Behavior Is Not Disabling," in which "disabling" is the same part of speech as "dooming" is in the real headline. But it does seem ugly, probably because it's unidiomatic.
11.14.2007 1:01am
Best/Worst headine ever:

Story about a mental patient who escapes and assylum and goes on a rape spree: "NUT BOLTS AND SCREWS"
(Joel Feinberg, Offense to Others: The Moral Limts of the Criminal Law, 1989/OUP: 247.)

I know it makes me evil, but I've never forgotten this one. Just too shocking, stupid, and funny.
11.14.2007 2:10am
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
It's a perfectly cromulent word.
11.14.2007 9:49am
Nick R:

It is a fairly tortured use of the word. Doom was a transitive verb in Shakespeare or Dryden, but is I suspect now much more commonly intransitive and used in the passive voice. (cf 'I doom you' to 'you are doomed by me'. Thus 'doomed', the passive past participle, escapes notice, while 'dooming', the active present participle, jars.

Of course, headlines and prose differ in their grammars; and all US newspaper headlines, with their
Length And Insistence On Lots Of Capital Letters, Dangling Phrases,
do feel slightly odd to this British English speaker raised on a diet of headlines such as

'Up Yours Delors' (against the EU),

'Gotcha!' (on the sinking by the Royal Navy of the Argentine ship The General Belgrano)


'Zip me up before you go go' (George Michael's Larry Craig moment)

- all from The Sun.

11.14.2007 10:28am
JosephSlater (mail):
No mention of "Headless Corpse Found in Topless Bar"?
11.14.2007 11:42am
NIck R: I agree that American headlines would be more decipherable if they used standard capitalization.
Years ago, I clipped a headline from the AP:
"Wild Sign Right Wing Christian Matte"
Hint: nothing about wild signs, right-wing Christians, or anything like that. The Minnesota Wild, a hockey team, signed up a human called Christian Matte to play the position of right wing.
11.14.2007 11:56am
Ziusudra (mail):
I'm gonna sing the doom song now...
11.14.2007 3:25pm
For anyone who missed it a few months ago...

Best headlines of 1996 [from the S.J. Mercury-News]:

Include Your Children when Baking Cookies
Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
Panda Mating Fails; Vetrinarian Takes Over
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
Plane too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
Miners Refuse to Work After Death
Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Counter
If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Chef Throws His Heart Into Helping Feed Needy
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Clinton Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead

And, re:
'Gotcha!' (on the sinking by the Royal Navy of the Argentine ship The General Belgrano)
A Brit paper [can't recall which one] had a great pun headline after the Belgrano was sunk inside the exclusion zone [where it was supposed to be safe]:

Brittania Waives The Rules
11.14.2007 3:47pm
Ziusudra (mail):
The darn kids! Well, at least they make for nutritious cookies.
11.14.2007 4:10pm
Nick R:

Of course, the caps helped in what must have been one of the neatest sporting headlines of all time, after Shetland Caledonians beat Inverness Celtic in a Scottish final one year:


Now that is subediting. Back page of - who else? - the Sun.
11.14.2007 4:34pm
Smokey--Thanks. Those were cool.

The dumbest from my alma mater's campus rag (Notre Dame's 'Obseerver') in recnt years: The story was that our rather large Marching Band was able to take the whole group to the Big House in Ann Arbor for the game three years ago. The "Observer" headline?

'Marching Band Fits in Michigan'

Was the issue ever in doubt? There's plenty of room in the state. I mean, *Detroit alone* is practically empty . . .

My favorite from my other college, pre-ND:

"Prof Blasts 'Slimy Weasles' ". I only wish that it had been true.
11.14.2007 5:03pm
Federal Dog:
That headline is flabbergasting.
11.14.2007 7:13pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Their grammar dooms them to mediocrity.

Ungrammatical (perhaps apocryphal) headline:
City Council Can't Decide Whom Should Be Fired

Letter to the Editor in response:
"Whom Should Be Fired"? Whom wrote the headline? Him should be fired.
11.14.2007 9:43pm