Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Every once in a while people try to stump me with a word. A former teaching colleague sent me the word, paraprosdokian. And I was stumped!

The word paraprosdokian isn't in the compact Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary I have sitting on my desk. It's probably in the 50 pound, 20,000 page dictionary I have on the bookshelf, in the basement. Rather than schlepping that 50 pound monster up two flights of stairs, I decided to do an internet search for the word.

Paraprosdokian means: A figure of speech that uses an unexpected ending to a phrase or sentence. According to Wikipedia, it's a Greek word meaning beyond expectation. It's frequently used by humorists, satirists, and comedians for both affect and effect.

Here are some paraprosdokian examples:

1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak. (How true!)

2. If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong. (A great one-liner to throw at your spouse, soulmate, significant other, then watch the sparks fly!)

3. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish. (If the truth be known, our pets really train us. In most instances, it's a good idea. )

4. I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on it...so I said "Implants?" (Sounds like something one of you guys would ask.)

Wish I could take credit for the four paraprosdokians listed here, but I can't, and I have no way of finding out where these came from. My question to all of you: Have any of you ever heard of  paraprosdokian?


itsmecissy said...

Hey Pam,
I know a paraprosdokian when I hear one but never knew the name.

Grocho Marx used this in his humor. One of my favories is "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

Thanks, I can use this bit of info today at work!

Robert Crane said...

i always thought it meant a couple of professional ... well you know ... dokians. not that there is anything wrong with doking.

Pam said...

itsme: Groucho was a master at the paraprosdokian. Glad you can use this word play tidbit.

Robert: Doking is one of my favorite pastimes. I'm not quite a professional yet, but I'm working on it.

itsmecissy said...

You need to post something new. Every time I come to your blog and see paraprosdokian, it reminds me of poppadoms and then I get hungry. What with bob and the crab cakes, this is going to be a "fat week." (LOL)

Pam said...

What are poppadoms? Are they anything like condoms?

itsmecissy said...

Better than condoms!

Actually, they are the Indian version of tortilla chips. A flatbread made out of lentil flour or garbanzo bean flour. You get a heavenly stack of them at Indian restaurants to eat with various sauces (curries), meats & vegetables.

Very addicting little crisps!

Pam said...

Itsme: poppadoms!! I never knew what those delicious tasting chips were until now. I love'em! AND, yes, they are addicting. All those sauces you dip them in are absolutely scrumptious too.