Touting touts

The Boston Globe is on a touts kick. It has used tout, mainly in headlines, 519 times the past year, and is now touting at the rate of 10 touts a week. Well, tout is short, handy headline word, but I wonder how many Globe readers know that it has a very sleazy ring to it. Which may make it perfect for a headline in the Globe today (April 26, 2022): “Musk touts ‘free speech’ in announcing $44b deal for Twitter.”

As we defined tout in our Journalese Dictionary, a tout was a shady character at race tracks, whispering to bettors “sure” winning horses, in hopes he’ll get it right and get a nice tip for the tip. A tout was not a character you’d want your daughter to date. Or, heaven forbid, marry. His touts were pure bull, or horse…. whatever.

(Full disclosure: Under the pen name Handicap Harry, I wrote the horse tip column for Boston’s Mid-Town Journal in the early 1950s. Sometimes one of my picks won a race.)

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