Newspaper publishes inadvertently lulzy Libya headline

Jessica Stephens snapped the pic of the newspaper headline, above, and asks, "Seriously? Nobody at the Washington fucking Post saw a problem with this headline?"

(via @rstevens)



    1. The Washington Post headline writers used to delight in puns, especially in the “Style section” until the ombudsman got involved. Sad, really

    2. I think that half the trick to writing a good headline is seeing how much innuendo you can slip by the editors.

      That was the standard when I was a copy editor.  LOL

    1. “Taint” is defined as meaning “A trace of a bad or undesirable quality or substance”, however it has another meaning in American slang. In slang it refers to the area between the scrotum and the anus. This is what makes it funny.

  1. Heh. It makes one wonder if the text isn’t set via speech recognition. Around my neck of the woods, that’s exactly how people pronounce tent.

  2. OK, just hold on while I get the popcorn and then someone start explaining ‘taint’ to Agust and Guido…

  3. Some people learned English before “taint” became a puerile slang term.  The word does have a real meaning not related to human anatomy.

  4. As a non native speaker I didn’t get it either, so I looked it up.

    Turns out that taint is a slang term for perineum.

  5. An inadvertent headline of my acquaintance: “Questions remain on what to do with removed members.”

    1. Thanks! In Spanish we have actually the same joke, but it’s called the Nié. “Ni’ e culo ni’ e las bolas”

  6. Had me baffled too – another case of the British and Americans being two peoples separated by the same language

  7. The non-slang usage of “taint” has been around a lot longer than the slang usage, which to me means the non-slang interpretation wins out in a headline. That means while those of us in the know might bust a gut upon seeing a headline that reads, say, “Santorum Shocker!” the rest of the world will simply shrug and go about their business.

  8. I’m a native English speaker in the Unites States, and I only knew the dictionary definition of “taint”.  Even accepting that it is now peurile, phallic slang, I still don’t see the humor.

  9. In some Spanish speaking countries you can no longer call papaya by its name because it has become a vulgarism for vulva. Instead you say “la fruita bomba” – the fruit that is shaped like a bomb. For as long as I can remember in the American south the chicken breast has been called the white meat. In my lifetime “up tight” has gone from meaning the dude in the 3 piece suit with the attache case who votes Republican to meaning someone who is cool and on top of things.
    In headlines the double meaning has been the norm going back a long way.

    1. “In some Spanish speaking countries you can no longer call papaya by its name because it has become a vulgarism for vulva”
      Same thing in italian with ‘fica’. Now for the fig fruit they had to change it to ‘fico’.

    2. In some Spanish speaking countries you can no longer call papaya by its name because it has become a vulgarism for vulva.

      Don’t get me started on the Year of the Rooster.

  10. I’m another life-long American/English speaker who had never heard the slang definition. I do lead a sheltered life..

  11. Given that the taint is established not to be a hole, the slang interpretation doesn’t make that much sense, and we can reinterpret “taint” in the conventional, standard manner,

  12.  Ms. Stephens is over-reaching. Slang moves fast, especially sexual slang,

    Show the headline editor also avoid using “trim” in a headline? Because trim once had a similar meaning and was almost unusable in polite company. How about the truly hurtful words like “Maroon” and “ger” ( both were racist pejoratives that thankfully have been repurposed to more benign uses.).

    Slang moves faster than standard usage. By standard usage, that headline is reasonable, if over-word. Bully for the headline editor if  s/he increased interest in the article by sneaking an au courant double entendre past the chief editor.

  13. By the way, Wikipedia article on Quaddafi has a hilarious scheme at the end showing different spellings:

    1. You’d think that the fact that he comes from a tribe called Qadhadhfa would simplify things.

  14. More like “No one at the Washington fucking Post was enough of a killjoy to deny the copy editors their fun that evening.”

  15. On the subject of obscure body regions: Are there crude names for the back of your knee? The bit under your nose? Do Ladies have a perineum?

    1. Whay did you capitalize ‘ladies’? That’s odd.

      I’m a woman, and speaking for myself only, I’d say I have a taint. ‘Taint my asshole and ‘taint my vulva! XD /runs away

  16. I’m a native-born American, lifetime English speaker, and never heard of “taint” being slang for anything.  I guess I’m never going to be able to listen to the song “Tainted Love” again.

  17. If you think that headline is ‘lulzy’ you should try doing a Google Books search for ‘taint’.  The resulting titles should leave you rolling in the aisles. :-)

  18. It’s funny, yeah. Until someone realizes that Rule 34 has yet to be properly applied here, and we get some interesting cosplay videos to watch.

  19. BBC was reporting yesterday that they found a secret suite under the university in Tripoli that had a luxury bedroom and bath with jacuzzi and an operating room with a pelvic table. Apparently, searching for Gaddafi’s taint has been going on for quite some time.

  20. When it comes to sexual slang, English will never catch up with Chicano. It’s very inventive laugh out loud kind of stuff. I picked up a book on Chicano slang in a bookstore and it was truly funny. Too much of English sex related slang is just smut devoid of fun. Snicker Snicker – Yes; Hah Hah- No.

  21. I’m American-born and also had no clue what was supposedly so offensive about the headline until reading the comments here.  Now that I do know, I can only roll my eyes at those that find juvenile humor in significant world news.

    I find terms like “lulzy” to be infinitely more offensive to the English language.

  22. anyone who doesn’t find this funny just needs to grow up and embrace their inner adolescent. “gooch” is my favorite term for perineum though. just sounds so much dirtier.

  23. This is not the “Washington fucking Post.” The Post owns it, but it’s produced by, and aimed at, all you young hipsters.

  24. Aloha,
    I always understood tainted…to mean something rotten/horribly smelly  ( IE skunk/ death/rotting flesh/ rotten  sperm/ a really rotten/ funky V-jaja).
    To leave a taint is as if a slime trail of unimaginable funk has been left behind.  Of course…some smells are an acquired taste type of thing, and are used to attract sexual partners…some groups of homo sapiens have ancient love for some very stinky foods…such as HAM HA or BUGA ONG….Too much?   Am I wrong?

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