So, over at the Star Tribune there's a story of a guy who cut off a rattlesnake's head, but was bitten by said rattlesnake anyway, after the head was severed. That's a weird story, and in this age of filling every space with information, no matter how banal or trivial, I suppose it qualifies as "news."
What irritates me about the story is the headline:
Rattlesnake's decapitated head bites man
To "decapitate" means to cut something's head off. I'm aware that the semifunctional drone at the Strib means to indicate that the head was cut off and then bit the man, but in the interest of packing as much drama as possible into the headline he's (or she's--women can be morons, too) mangled his semantics. The problem is, for a head to be decapitated, its head has to be cut off. But I'm not sure how you cut off a rattlesnake's head's head.
The headline writer had a couple of options to make sense: either
Decapitated rattlesnake bites man
Rattlesnake's severed head bites man
would work just fine. If they felt the need, they could have used some Sean--er . . . exclamation marks:
Undead Rattlesnake's Severed Head Injects Innocent Child With Zombie Venom!!!!
I prefer my understated versions, though.