origin of ‘Grauniad’ (colloquial name for The Guardian)


Grauniad - The Stage - 7 November 1991

Newspapers have been doing it for years. Mospronts [sic] in the Grauniad have made it a legend, sparky subs on nationals have often come up with classic double entendres in headlines.
But the BBC is concerned that its news script writers use proper English. BBC English. Void of journalese, inaccuracies and clichés.

from Man found dead in graveyard! (only joking), by Jane Garner
The Stage (London) – 7th November 1991



The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) has been nicknamed Grauniad because of its frequent typesetting errors—as explained by Dave Humphreys in an article about the 150th anniversary of The Guardian, published in The Ottawa Journal (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) of 12th May 1971:

Only The Guardian, known fondly as the Grauniad for its typographical errors, could celebrate its anniversary by making the verb prevent intransitive. Inadvertently a line of type had been dropped with the following result: “Bridlington parks committee is to hire a second guard dog and handler for 10 weeks to prevent.” Without even bothering to look up the line of lost type and commenting on the unhappy arbitrary division of English into transitive and intransitive verbs, The Graunad [sic] rejoiced:
“If the loss of one line of type has contributed in some small way to greater freedom of expression, we are proud to have been associated, however haphazardly, with the process. The thanks of all forward-looking grammarians are due to the Bridlington parks committee for preventing in the way it did.”

The nickname Grauniad was reportedly coined by the British satirical magazine Private Eye. This seems to be confirmed by the following, from The Economist (London) of 27th November 1971:

All the characters of Private Eye’s earliest days survive—Lord Gnome, the Grauniad, Lunchtime O’Booze—giving a curious cosy familiarity to each issue.

Bernard Levin, too, wrote that Grauniad was coined by Private Eye, in the review of The Life and Times of Private Eye (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1971), edited by Richard Ingrams—review published in The Observer (London, England) of 28th November 1971:

Some of their [= Private Eye’s] phrases have virtually passed into the language: they invented the word ‘pseud,’ and for that matter ‘poove,’ and what regular reader ever thinks of the Guardian as anything but the Grauniad?

On 7th May 1974, the Education section of The Guardian criticised the typographical errors in the press statements issued by the NUSS (National Union of School Students). Unfortunately for The Guardian, its article itself contained a typesetting error, which prompted a reader to write this—published on 14th May 1974 in the Education section of The Guardian:

Sir,—John or Maureen or Eileen or Betty, in their article in this week’s Education Grauniad, which devoted eight paragraphs to criticism of typing errors in NUSS leaflets, referred to “he spelling mistakes.” How should we interpret this reference?
Kristin Stott.

Bill Grundy titled a retrospective article about The Guardian, published in The Spectator (London) of 29th March 1975, Good old ‘Grauniad’, which he concluded with:

The paper has survived, improved, and prospered. It is therefore not beyond the bounds of possibility that it will do the same under its new editor. As someone who cannot imagine what the mornings would be like without the good old Grauniad, I hope so.

The nickname remains popular despite the improvement in spell-check technology. The Guardian even makes a special feature of highlighting and reporting its errors in the daily column Corrections and clarifications. The first Guardian’s readers’ editor, appointed in November 1997, was Ian Mayes, the fourth is Paul Chadwick.

The Guardian has self-derisively appropriated its nickname, since it uses Grauniad.co.uk as a redirect to its homepage.

Cf. also:
‘Torygraph’, and other newspaper nicknames
19th-century nicknames for London newspapers

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