Paraprosdokians. Parawhat?

Paraprosdokian is not a word I would readily remember.  I can even admit freely I’d never heard of it until recently.  Maybe I’m just weird, but I can remember a word much better if I know where it came from; this one actually makes sense: (Greek) para– meaning “against”, and prosdokaō meaning “I expect.”  Against expectations.  It’s not actually that old, and is thought of by some linguists as a bogus term; but there are a lot of words that have crept into the English language on just such a pretext, and have hung around for centuries (thereby gaining loyalty from linguists).  I’d say that sounds like a bit of cosmic humour.

A Paraprosdokian is a phrase or sentence that ends with an unexpected twist.  Now it may be as common as rain where you live, but not here.  I tend to think of these sentences as one-liners, and with good reason – this figure of speech is popular with comedians as it’s short and ends on a punch.  Some Paraprosdokians use a familiar phrase and twist the ending such as the first sentence (“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”).  So I say, call them what you will – just use them well!

Crabby Road

Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

I sleep eight hours a day and at least ten at night. (Bill Hicks)

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.

You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they have tried everything else. (Winston Churchill)

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat. (Will Rogers)

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.  It should be thrown with great force.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

They begin the evening news with Good Evening, then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. (Variations on this phrase are attested as early as 1884.)

There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

If I am reading this graph correctly… I’d be very surprised. (Stephen Colbert)

I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long. (Mitch Hedberg)

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify, I put DOCTOR.

I like going to the park and watching the children run around because they don’t know I’m using blanks. (Emo Philips)

I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

He was at his best when the going was good. (Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor)

You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit, the target.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it. (Groucho Marx)

A modest man, who has much to be modest about. (Winston Churchill, about Clement Attlee)

If I could just say a few words… I’d be a better public speaker.

She was good as cooks go, and as cooks go she went.

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