Because it takes up so many characters, a paraprosdokian is probably not a word you’d want to tweet very much. What is a paraprosdokian?
It’s a fulsome figure of speech where the latter part of a sentence jumps in an unexpected direction, often comically. Frequently a paraprosdokian is used for humorous or dramatic effect.
Winston Churchill absolutely relished them. “There but the grace of God—goes God,” he once quipped. He described “a modest man, who has much to be modest about.”
For this reason, paraprosdokians are popular among comedians.
“Take my wife—please!” was the Henny Youngman’s signature gag line.
“If I could just say a few words… I’d be a better public speaker,” admitted Homer Simpson.
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it,” groused Groucho Marx.
Will Rogers once confessed “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”
“You can say that again, unless you’re a Republican!” That’s mine I wish now I had put into my latest book, “Is there enough Brady in Trump to win the inSUPERable bowl?” (still available on Amazon!)
“On the other hand, you have different fingers,” Steven Wright once perceptively pointed out.
Here are a few more paraprosdokians from various paraprosdokianaters:
- Do not argue with an idiot; he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
- The last thing I want to do is hurt you; but it’s still on the list.
And finally the erudite British-American journalist and one-time TV personality Alistair Cooke once observed “He was at his best when the going was good.”
And then he said most memorably:
In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the first place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby.