Headline fun

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Every so often we post here about baffling headlines — baffling to readers who don't have the real-world knowledge needed to interpret them. Most recently, Geoff Pullum posted about

Detective attacks jailed canoe wife who lied to sons

(which he used as a springboard for a discussion of noun-noun compounds like canoe wife). Today's delight (from Bruce Webster, who came across it on Dave Barry's blog) is

All Blacks lock rubbishes Wallabies poor form line

Without some context, this is impenetrable — unless you something about rugby (especially in the southern hempishere) and some British slang. It's significant that the headline comes from a New Zealand rugby site. And that All Blacks and Wallabies are capitalized; they refer to rugby teams (the All Blacks are the national team of New Zealand, and the Wallabies of Australia). So lock is not a verb, but a noun referring to a rugby position and the person playing it. And so on.

The slang is the verb rubbish, which means 'criticize severely and reject as worthless' (NOAD2) in British English and varieties influenced by British English (including at least Australian, New Zealand, South African, and Indian English).

(Hat tip to Bruce Webster.)

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