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Oct 4, 2017

Meet 'Paraprosdokian', the rare but often used figure of speech in English

Did your English or Literature teacher tell you about 'paraprosdokian' under figures of speech? If he/she did, I advise you go back to him/her to say a very big THANK YOU for adding you to the list of the very few students who were taught this lesson while in secondary/high school.
Meet 'Paraprosdokian', the rare but often used figure of speech in English

Unlike other figures of speech, 'paraprosdokian' lacks popularity among literature students despite the popularity of its examples. It is very uncommon in terms of word usage, and this might be as a result of its non availability in most printed and some online dictionaries.

Paraprosdokian is a witty or clever statement or saying with a surprising or  an unexpected and humorous end. The latter part of a "paraprosdokian" statement is usually unexpected and humorous, and because of this, the reader or listener unavoidably analyses the former part of the statement to understand the actual message the speaker is trying to pass across. 

Paraprosdokian (also called the surprise ending) is often used for comic effect hence mostly used by comedians and satirists. A very common example of paraprosdokian is "Where there's a will, I want to be in it".

Other examples of paraprosdokian
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it's still on my list.
  • Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism, but to steal from many is research.
  • If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. 
  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right, only who is left. 
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
  • Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • I am supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.
  • Don't argue with an idiot; he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • If everything seems under control, you're not just going fast enough.
  • In the end, it is not the years in your life that count; it is the life in your years.
  • Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
From the examples above, most  persons can confidently argue that, at one point in time, they had made statements that could be best described as paraprosdokians. Can you remember any of those statements? If yes, kindly use the comment box to state them. 



Tammy Reuben Is A Graduate Of English And Literary Studies Whose Love For Teaching English As A Second Language And Providing Students With Useful Educational And Secular Information Resulted In The Creation Of This Blog.



  1. Now I know. I've used: I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you. Thanks,sir Tammy, I've achieved....

  2. Now I know, I've used; I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
    Thanks, I've achieved something