What’s a “paraprosdokian”?


Sir Winston Churchill apparently loved a good paraprosdokian. Do you know what that is?

First, the word’s definition:

“A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected”  

Here’s a classic example of a paraprosdokian from Sir Winston: “If you are going through hell, keep going!”  And here are 20 more non-Churchill paraprosdokians:

1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.

3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

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

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

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

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

8. Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

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

10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paycheques.

12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify ___” – I put ‘DOCTOR’.

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

14. 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.

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

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

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

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

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

20. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

Q: do you have a favourite paraprosdokian to share with us?


10 thoughts on “What’s a “paraprosdokian”?

  1. Not sure this is strictly a paraprosdokian:
    “There are three kinds of people. Those who can count and those who can’t.”

    • That’s cute, Cave. When I worked in the hospital, I heard a slightly similar one (but not a paraprosdokian!) from one of our docs: “There are two kinds of people: those who look at their stools, and those who don’t!”

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