Headlinese is the vocabulary of headlines: words that are rarely, if ever, used in everyday conversation or writing. They are short, punchy, and handy to a headline writer on deadline. One of my favorites is “irk,” which can cover a wide range of emotion: annoyance, anger, bother, teed-off, outrage, indignation, freak-out, irritation, bug, and more. The Boston Globe, Jan. 16, 2017, had a great usage for a p. one top story: “Expired, vacant seats irk boards.” The story revealed that Massachusetts state boards had every reason to be irked: “As of last week, 33 percent of the 4,440 seats listed on the governor’s website were either vacant or filled with holdovers whose terms had expired.” The not irksome news was that most of those serving on the 700 state boards or commissions are unpaid.

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