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What Is A Paraprosdokian?

What Is A Paraprosdokian?


Writers Write shares writing tips and writing resources. In this post, we explain what a paraprosdokian is and give you examples to explain the term.

According to Literary Devices: ‘A paraprosdokian is a derivative of a Greek word that means “beyond expectation”. It is a wordplay type of literary device in which the final part of a phrase or sentence is unexpected.’

It is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way. It is a linguistic U-turn that results in humour or surprise.

It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect. It is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

If you want to write humour, it is a good tool to learn how to use.

Examples Of Paraprosdokians From Famous People

  1. Dorothy Parker: “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
  2. Winston Churchill: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else”
  3. Albert Einstein: “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
  4. Mario Andretti: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”
  5. Zsa Zsa Gabor: “He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the house.”

According to Mental Floss: ‘The term paraprosdokian was coined in the 19th century and has been winding its way into modern usage since then (but unfortunately it still doesn’t grace the pages of most paper dictionaries yet).’

10 Paraprosdokians To Tickle Your Brain

Share your paraprosdokians in the comments section.

TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

© Amanda Patterson

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This article has 1 comment

  1. Martin

    Here are two English idioms that are transformed into paraprosdokians by leaving words off the end, rather than by twisting the ending.

    1) Hell hath no fury as a woman.
    2) People who live in glass houses shouldn’t.

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