What is a paraprosdokian?

15 Sep

came across this term during work.

i didn’t even know there is a name for it.

wiki says:

“A paraprosdokian (from Greek “παρα-“, meaning “beyond” and “προσδοκία”, meaning “expectation”) is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

Some paraprosdokians not only change the meaning of an early phrase, but also play on the double meaning of a particular word, creating asyllepsis.”

some examples:

“She got her good looks from her father, he’s a plastic surgeon.”

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.”

“I want to die like my father, quietly, in his sleep—not screaming and terrified like his passengers.”

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”

“I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.”

“On the other hand, we have different fingers.”

“Two men walked into a bar. The third guy ducked.”

clever, eh?

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