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5 Boring Subjects Translated Into Clickbait Headlines

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We’ve all become savvy to the tropes and tricks of clickbait headlines, but that doesn’t stop us from clicking on them. Can’t we harness the power of clickbait to funnel interest toward loftier subjects? As it turns out, the conventions of clickbait can be applied to even the most highbrow topics. Here are five edifying areas that have been given the clickbait treatment.

1. Dissertations

Think nobody cares about your dissertation? Submit it to the Clickbait Dissertations Tumblr and just watch what happens!

You NEED to See This Hot Model (NSFW) of Ethnic Politics and Foreign Policy.

(Actual title: Supporting secession or maintaining boundaries: The international consequences of ethnic politics.)

Meet the Bad-ass Bards who Changed the Way You Experience the Written Word.

(Actual title: Anthologizing Modernism: New Verse Anthologies, 1913-53.)

All of Your Brain Cells Have the Same DNA, Right? Here are 10 Reasons Why You’re So Wrong.

(Actual title: Chromosomal aneuploidy in the developing mammalian cortex.)

2. Supreme Court Business

You will literally not be able to stop yourself from clicking when you see what Twitter account @ClickbaitSCOTUS is up to.

3. Music History

Classical Minnesota Public Radio applied the clickbait formula to a bunch of its stories, and you won’t believe what happened next! (You clicked on them, and still felt good about yourself.) Here’s a selection:

When His Musicians Needed Some Time Off for Lovin’, This Composer Wrote a Piece That Made Sure They Got It.

Was This Famous Mass of Death Really Meant for a Fun Family Singalong?

What Did This Guy Do When He Heard Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony? He Finished It.

4. History

The history of the 20th century in clickbait headlines? This xkcd comic made me laugh, until it made me cringe, because I realized it would totally happen this way today.

(1920) 17 things that will be outlawed now that women can vote

(1957) 12 nip slips potentially visible to Sputnik

(1968) This year's assassinations ranked from most to least tragic

5. Literature

Whoa! Check out what The Millions did to these classic book titles!

Watch This Kid Burst Into Tears When He’s Refused Some More Porridge
(Oliver Twist)

You Thought Millenials Were Bad? Watch These British Kids Totally Nail Chaos Theory
(Lord of the Flies)

We Thought We Could Beat On Against The Current Without Being Borne Back Ceaselessly Into The Past. Boy, Were We Wrong.
(The Great Gatsby)

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Words
'Froyo,' 'Troll,' and 'Sriracha' Added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
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Looking for the right word to describe the time you spend drinking before heading out to a party, or a faster way to say “frozen yogurt?" Merriam-Webster is here to help. The 189-year-old English vocabulary giant has just added 250 new words and definitions to their online dictionary, including pregame and froyo.

New words come and go quickly, and it’s Merriam-Webster’s job to keep tabs on the terms that have staying power. “As always, the expansion of the dictionary mirrors the expansion of the language, and reaches into all the various cubbies and corners of the lexicon,” they wrote in their announcement.

Froyo is just one of the recent additions to come from the culinary world. Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; choux pastry, a type of dough; and sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that’s been around for decades but has just recently exploded in the U.S., are now all listed on Merriam-Webster's website.

Of course, the internet was once again a major contributor to this most recent batch of words. Some new terms, like ransomware (“malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files”) come from the tech world, while words like troll ("to harass, criticize, or antagonize [someone] especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts”) were born on social media. Then there’s the Internet of Things, a concept that shifts the web off our phones and computers and into our appliances.

Hive mind, dog whistle, and working memory are just a few of the new entries to receive the Merriam-Webster stamp of approval. To learn more about how some words make it into the dictionary while others get left out, check these behind-the-scenes secrets of dictionary editors.

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How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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