Clickbait – Definition and Examples


Clickbait is when someone makes a sensational or exaggerated headline for the primary purpose of grabbing people’s attention. A clickbait title can be made for an article, a video, a thumbnail, or something else.

Example: As he was reading the latest news with his morning cup of coffee, Bob noticed several clickbait thumbnails at the bottom of the page. Some of them piqued his interest. However, he didn’t have time to read any of them because he had to get ready for work.

Similar Phrases:

1. A sensational headline

The definition of clickbait and what it is.

10 Clickbait Examples

Here are some basic examples of clickbait titles and what they might look like. Generally, these are accompanied by a relevant thumbnail, such as a shocked facial expression. Have you seen these or similar looking titles on articles or videos before?

1. You won’t believe what happens next!
2. Lose weight EASILY with this one simple tip!
3. I am making dinner, but I have to do it blindfolded!
4. This is crazy!
5. This SIMPLE fix will save you thousands!
6. Don’t do this, it is SUPER dangerous!
7. Say GOODBYE to your dental bills.
8. The best idea you will hear all year!
9. Wow, did that just happen?
10. Eating this food is actually healthy for you?

You get the idea. Notice how some of these click baiting titles are vague, yet interesting enough that the reader may want to click on them to see more. Others, like number three on the list, takes a basic activity but adds a twist to it to make it more exciting.


How long has the word clickbait been around for? Well, ‘clicking’ is done with an electronic mouse and the first mice were commercially available in the 1980s. Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to say the term ‘clickbait’ originated sometime after. Interestingly, the earliest I could find it in use was on the website Snopes in 2005. However, it is likely a little older than that.

Why is it called click baiting? The analogy is simple: Fish bait is used to get the attention of nearby fish. The fish see the worm (the bait) and swim closer. Do they go for a bite? If they do, the bait worked and they are hooked on the line! Similarly, a clickbait title or thumbnail is used to get the attention of people. If they see the title and become interested, their mouse pointers hover closer to the bait. Do they go for it by clicking on the title? If so, they get ‘hooked’ so to speak.

Are Click Baiting Thumbnails and Titles Annoying?

For some people, clickbait thumbnails and titles are annoying. Why? Well, I’ll speak for myself here but I wouldn’t be surprised if others feel similarly. Basically, when articles or videos exaggerate their titles for the sake of clicks, by the time I reach the end of the content, it feels as though I got tricked into reading or watching the material. In other words, it feels like I wasted my time.

To get a better idea of what I’m saying, here is an example of a headline to a news story that is exaggerated or misleading, thus making it clickbait. Imagine the following headline (note that this is a made up example for illustrative purposes):

Devastating Windstorm Wreaks Havoc On Small Town!

What comes to mind when you read that? For me, it sounds like some place got hit hard by a windstorm and severe damage resulted. So to learn more about this terrible situation, I click on it. However, after skimming through the news article, I learn that the winds were not that powerful and that the only real damage from the storm was that it blew over someone’s fence. So that headline was misleading; it exaggerated everything that happened. In other words, that is an example of how a clickbait title can be bad.

To make things even more sensational, a thumbnail can be combined with the title. For instance, imagine the thumbnail to that news article was a picture of a devastating tornado approaching a town. That thumbnail combined with that headline would make for strong clickbait, which is why usually used in conjunction with each other.

Tip: For more expressions starting with “C” check out our list. You won’t believe what kind of phrases are on there! That was my attempt at click baiting, did it work? If not, I’ll be more direct — go there now and learn!

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