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Paraprosdokian

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Paraprosdokian

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Paraprosdokian is the use of words at the end of a phrase or sentence that change the apparent initial meaning.

Example

I am most disgusted that you were not rewarded for your wonderful work.

Take my hand, I don't want it.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

Discussion

When we listen to what someone is saying, we constantly predict ahead, trying to work out what they are going to say. It is thus relatively easy to set up expectation and then dash it. This causes confusion and hence makes the person review and re-think what you are really saying.

The confusion and subsequent realization of Paraprosdokian makes it a popular formula with comics and other humorists.

Paraprosdokian comes from the Greek words for 'beyond' and 'expectation'.

Classification: Attention, Meaning, Humor

See also

Using humor, Confusion principle

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