This is a headline from a Sky news article on their website:

Oklahoma set to outlaw almost all abortions with threat of prison and $100,000 fines

This is a link to the full article: https://news.sky.com/story/oklahoma-set-to-outlaw-almost-all-abortions-with-threat-of-prison-and-100-000-fines-12583202

Does "set" mean:

  1. Ready; prepared: We are set to leave early tomorrow morning.

  2. To concentrate or direct (one's mind or attention, for example) on a purpose or goal.

3.a. To declare or demonstrate (a precedent or standard, for instance).

  • 4
    It's (1) - headlinese for is preparing to. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


As KB says in a comment, the first meaning ("ready; prepared") is correct.

"Headlinese" often omits finite forms of the verb "to be". In this case, the word "is" has been omitted from the sentence's second position.

  • Why do they omit it? It's not like it's even printed so it doesn't cost anything. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 20:28
  • 1
    @StaticBounce History, probably, and perhaps clarity - headlines would just seem weird as full sentences at this point.
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 20:47
  • @StaticBounce Short sentences are easier to parse quickly - particularly on the web. Long sentences cost screen space on a web page. That's a serious design question when so many pages are viewed on small phone screens. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 20:48
  • 1
    Headlines, especially on news websites these days, are limited to a set number of characters. As a former headline writer, I often struggled to find a form of words that would convey the essence of a story within the prescribed character limit. Grammar didn't enter the equation. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 20:59
  • It used to be worse, when headline lengths were dictated by font size and the width of a sheet of paper (there was no scrolling, obviously). There are still screen size limitations, but the main issue is that the primary purpose of a headline is to grab your attention quickly and not necessarily to present information clearly. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 23:32

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