paraprosdokian
Version 2.0


101 Words I Don't Use
Copyright ©2011by Paul Niquette All rights reserved.
  Version 2.0 first published in 2015

 

 

paraprosdokian n. a figure of speech in which the latter part of a passage is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. 

ThinkerThe names of most figures of speech are so infrequently used that they hardly deserve to exist except in collections or in puzzles.  The same can be said of the name paraprosdokian, which is apparently unknown to many people.  The genre itself is a ubiquitous instrument of humor.  Version 1.0 of this entry assumed that paraprosdokians are plentiful.  Not so much.
 

All my searches on the web turned up fewer than a hundred specimens!


Repetitions are what one finds to be plentiful.  Repetitions of "quotations," mostly attributable to world-class sources: Churchill, of course, along with Berra, Marx, Rogers, Twain.  I decided that the world needs more paraprosdokians with or without attributions.  Meanwhile, the productivity of crowd sourcing has become evident in 1001 Metaphors, a page which now features more than 2,600 entries.   So I decided to launch a new page entitled 1001 Paraprosdokians beginning with those I have found on the web plus...


The entries in Version 2.0 are original, all being first published in 2015.


Self-deprecative paraprosdokians are my personal favorites...
  • Beautiful wives, every one.  Beautiful and talented.  And now rich. 
  • Some jurisdictions require a license to be as ugly as I am.
  • I am going to the library to brush up on my ignorance. 
  • I am not a phony.  People hate me for myself.
  • My barber told me I have a face that looks like it already wore out two bodies.
  • One of my best ideas made a big splash.  Then I flushed the toilet.
  • Whoever told me to be myself gave me bad advice.
  • Marriage to me brings out the best in a woman.  Chastity. 

Some paraprosdokians use their manipulative power to disparage...
  • My father should not have told me I was in kindergarten before I learned how to wave goodbye.
  • My dad is the reason that my vocabulary includes everything from the a-word to the z-word.
  • If dating websites are too expensive, keep using your i-phone to collect numbers off restroom walls.
  • The purser taught me all the nautical terms: port, starboard, fore, aft, and little round window.
  • Some politicians will never understand climate change.  Science has its limits for dumbing-down.
  • Hearing your opinion tempts me to say a four-letter word most commonly used in dice games.
  • I am definitely not a mechanical genius, so I always appreciate being told how a seatbelt works.
  • Some brides still promise to love, honor, and obey.  Two out of three is not bad.
  • Politicians who say that abstinence works are the ones who have had vasectomies.

Proverbial pronouncements apply paraprosdokians in many settings...
  • Self-righteousness can be most unbecoming, but it sure beats humility.
  • The word oxymoron can mean yarmulkes for Muslims, rosaries for Baptists, and kosher ham.
  • Looking back on my life, I have been rich and I have been poor.  Poor can be quite inconvenient.
  • How confident can you be when you find the dispenser empty of toilet-seat gaskets?
  • Two wrongs do not make a right.  That’s why I never double-park at a fireplug.
  • Restroom euphemisms are required in polite company.  Use ‘call of nature’ for 'taking a shit'.
  • Terms of endearment during passionate pillow-talk avoids blurting a wrong first name.

Not surprisingly, paraprosdokians are well suited to framing ironic twists...
  • Best part about waking up with a stranger in your bed can be that damn hangover.
  • I was embarrassed after leading raucous cheers during the rally to find my fly unzipped.
  • I was unable to stop sneezing until I was diagnosed with a severe allergy to facial tissues.
  • People like to cheer for the underdog but they always pay solemn attention to the top dog.          
  • Am I the only person who stays up late watching weather satellite videos?
  • I'm having a great day.  Woke up this morning, got out of bed, went to the bathroom.  In that order!

Even the lowly pun can be brandished as a paraprosdokian...
  • Having no public restrooms is a clever way to keeps riff-raff out of your hotel lobby.  Uncanny.
  • I got a sweater for my birthday. I really wanted a screamer or a moaner. 
  • If a hypocrite is standing between you and God, the hypocrite is closer to God than you are.
  • You should do some soul-searching.  Maybe you'll find one.
  • I may be barking up the wrong tree, but that is my natural voice.


With a penchant for jocularity, I feature paraprosdokians in my stand-up scripts, like this one, from which a few selected examples are included in the list above.  However, the only time I had ever used the word  paraprosdokian was an entry in elegancelessness. Until Version 2.0, that is.