At least one reader asked a colleague about the word brio in this headline Coble brings brio to county. The reader joked that it sounded as if Paul Coble, the Wake County commissioner who was the subject of the story, had brought some tasty soft cheese to the county.

Brio (bree-oh) is Italian and means “enthusiastic vigor.” Its synonyms are zest, vivacity and verve. The story was about how enthusiastically Coble is going about his duties on the board of commissioners, so the headline certainly reflects the story.


Is brio then a better word than, say, zest or verve? I think that it works well in this headline because of the sound of brio. Poetic devices such as rhyme, assonance and alliteration can make a headline stick with readers. Brio and bring sound alike.

It appears that the copy editor who wrote that headline, Michelle Moriarity, brings brio to the sometimes thankless task of crafting a headline of four or five words that captures the essence of a story.

But if I received an e-mail message with brio in the subject line, I would probably not open it!

Here is an interesting word nerd note about brio. The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary says brio is related to a Celtic word brigos, derived from an Old Irish word brig, meaning power, strength or force.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.