of most figures of speech are so infrequently used
that they hardly deserve to exist except in collections or
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
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.
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, which is a page that 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...
Entries added in Version 2.0
are original, each first published in
paraprosdokians are my personal
- 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.
use their manipulative power to disparage...
- My mother told me I was
in kindergarten before I learned how to wave
- My father is the reason
that my vocabulary includes everything from the
a-word to the b-word.
websites are expensive, so I'll just keep
collecting 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 the 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
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
- Two wrongs do not make
a right. That’s why I never double-park at
- 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
- 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 who cheer for
the underdog always pay solemn attention to the
- Am I the only person
who stays up late watching weather satellite
- 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...
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 have
actually used the word paraprosdokian was
-- until Version 2.0, that is.