From the Wall Street Journal: You Won’t Believe What Word This Column Is About!

“Clickbait” came together as a compound as early as 1999. That year, Network Magazine reported on a “‘clickbait’ Web page” that exhorted, “Click here to become a millionaire in five minutes.” Clicking on that link caused some hacker’s malicious code to be downloaded.

Nowadays, “clickbait” by and large merely induces the casual reader to click through to some inane Web feature that can never measure up to its hyperbolic headline. [continue]

Yeah, that’s a good summary. Do you read websites that feature clickbaity headlines? I try to avoid them.

4 thoughts on “Clickbait

  1. Interesting article. I think almost all large news and general interest web sites are guilty of clickbait to some extent and I find it very difficult to avoid but like you, I tend not to frequent clickbaity websites.

    What I found intriguing about the word “clickbait” was the lag between when it was first used and the time it took to be officially listed by Merriam-Webster. Sixteen years is quite some time when you consider the astronomic rise of words like “selfie”.

    Clearly the listing of “clickbait” has caused some consternation amongst the prescriptivists of the lexicography world!

      • I agree. I can’t quite work out where I am on the prescriptivist-descriptivist “spectrum” as I empathise with both positions!

        • Me too! I am horrified by the disappearance of the subjunctive, and by a number of other things that strike me as being wrong and atrocious. On the other hand, I like some of the new constructions very much. So mostly I try to keep my opinions to myself, though I do a certain amount of ranting at home.

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