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Older discussion[edit]

Perhaps a comment stating that the punctuation of the second example is part of the humor is needed--I didn't consider the possiblity until it was mentioned, so others could miss it. Though it could just be me. Shilasu 16:24, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

We can self-reference if, like - Paraprosdokian is a figure of speech. You have to figure out how to speak it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:07, 2 October 2008 (UTC)


The definition has been substituted with phrases containing "hamburgers." The article should be corrected, but I don't know what the word means well enough to do it.

Reference for this word?[edit]

Even the Oxford English Dictionary doesn't contain this word, so can anyone give a reference for it? Otherwise, why should I believe it's not a made-up word?

It's a classical term - see, for example:
  • p. 218, Classical Philology > Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr., 1940)
  • p. 315, The American Journal of Philology > Vol. 86, No. 3 (Jul., 1965)
  • p. 322, The American Journal of Philology > Vol. 77, No. 3 (1956)
I got these off JSTOR, though unless you're connected to a university somehow, you're unlikely to be able to get access. An example of more recent use can be seen as the penultimate entry on the second page of a google search for the term. Note the URL: journal_of_philology/v123/123.2biles.pdf - v. 123 of the journal is from 2002.
As the word is often written in italics in the above sources, I suspect that it is merely a transliteration of the Greek (hence not in the OED), which would be something like: παραπρωσδοχιαν :) Sorry, I might as well use my Greek GCSE for something.... Soobrickay 02:39, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm told that it's a phrase - "παρά προσδοκίαν" - "against expectation." 02:38, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

This word I found used in Edmund Murphy's book The Logic of Medicine. Thus, it is not a made-up word and is indeed from the Greek. The explanation provided here is not totally correct though, as it applies to a logic employed showing that the latter portion of the phrase seems at odds with the introduction/former part however is not contradictory to the same.--Mike 01:17, 16 March 2007 (UTC)


  1. "I type at one hundred and one words a minute. But it's in my own language." — Mitch Hedberg
  2. "I know a lot about cars. I can look at a car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming." — Mitch Hedberg
  3. "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried." — Winston Churchill [8]
  4. "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." — Winston Churchill
  5. "[I weigh] 145 pounds, naked. That is, if that scale outside the drugstore is anything to go by." — Emo Philips[9]
  6. "My parents threw quite the going-away party for me... according to the letter." — Emo Philips

Should those be deleted from the article? I don't think they quite fit the definition - especially the first one. The punchline didn't cause me to reframe the first part of the sentence at all. --Dbutler1986 (talk) 01:11, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Glad to see I wasn't the only one feeling that some cleanup is needed. I think both of the Churchill quotes should stay, but I'm going to remove those others, and a couple more as well. Cgingold (talk) 02:39, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
I suppose you're right about the Churchill quotes. --Dbutler1986 (talk) 19:15, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Agreeing with Dbutler1986, that the examples they cited should be deleted. I deleted the Churchill quote -- there's no change in meaning caused during the last part of the sentence. I also deleted two more, which didn't cause far as I "rethink" the earlier part of the sentence. Piano non troppo (talk) 06:06, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Also, sadly, is this one: "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana." It is incongruity between the two "flies" which creates the humour, not the reframing of the first part of the sentence; the first time you hear this, you probably reframe the second part of the sentence. I disagree about removing "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing...", as the second part of the sentence turns this into a complete contradiction. cojoco (talk) 11:24, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
I also happen to agree that "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing..." quote should stay, it does force you to rethink the first part of the sentence, because it changes in meaning. The first part indicates that Americans will do what is right when expected, though the second says that they won't, and turns the indication into a part of humour (or whatever Churchill meant by that quote, I found it funny), the turning, in itself, is rethinking. -- (talk) 21:22, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Near misses?[edit]

I wonder if it might be informative to include a selection of "near misses", in a kind of "exception proves the rule" kind of a way? cojoco (talk) 02:30, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

how about this from "Arrested Development" "You were the last to see her alive, or dead, or whatever" - cop in arrested development. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:53, 9 April 2009 (UTC)


I was pretty sure the line "I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it" was attributed to Steven Wright, not Jack Handey. Can anyone prove which of the two this quote is currectly attributed to?--Maceo (talk) 10:15, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

No it was Handey. Doesn't strike me as very like Wright's style. Ceoil (talk) 17:49, 3 September 2010 (UTC)


there are a lot of examples listed but people always fight about them. i think they all count as original research any way so shouldnt they all be removed?? Aisha9152 (talk) 16:08, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Your taking the definition of OR a bit too far there. Outright mass deletion is just, well I dont know. Ceoil (talk) 18:05, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
i still think the tag should be there. i dont think youre supposed to remove tags without a good justification. Aisha9152 (talk) 22:25, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia:Tagging pages for problems says If an argument on the talk page has been made as to the reason for the tag, but someone still feels that the tag is inappropriate, he or she should explain the reasoning on the talk page. If there is no reply within a reasonable amount of time (a few days), the tag can be removed. If there is disagreement, then normal talk page discussion should proceed, per consensus-building. Adding and removing tags without discussion is not helpful, and can be seen as disruptive. Where there is disagreement, both sides should attempt to discuss the situation.. so can we discuss it instead of removing the tag without discussion please. thank you. Aisha9152 (talk) 16:59, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
    • I do agree with Ceoil that this is stretching the definition of OR a bit far. However I do agree that all quotations (eventually) need references, hence I've replaced the OR tag, with that tag. Let's all try to cite a little more reference, and a little less rulebook. Thanks :) -- Quiddity (talk) 05:49, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
      • problem is that even references that are there just tell you the person said it not that its a paraprosdokian. deciding whether they are or not counts as original research and if you look at article history has been cause of a lot of back and forth problems. Aisha9152 (talk) 06:08, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
        • I think Aisha9152 has a good point, although it is a strict interpretation of OR. But it strikes me that using a strict interpretation in this case would make sense, as it would limit the examples to ones endorsed by a source. Otherwise, I see no criteria for which to include and which to reject, other than personal preference. --Nuujinn (talk) 16:20, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
        • Judgment and linguistic expertise are required to assess if the quoted examples are, in fact, valid examples of the figure of speech. Strictly speaking, that makes it original research, in my mind. The problem is that other people's examples would have to be quoted verbatim, which would possibly be a copyright violation. Even allowing fair use, I imagine that the amount of text quotable would be very little (possibly even less than generally permitted for poetry) and there would have to be a fair use rationale (such as criticism or discussion of the quoted author's work, rather than the example itself). So, strictly speaking, we would probably be limited to examples that had been written or said by one person (preferably a long time ago) and quoted as an example by another. For this reason, I would suggest, the OR barrier might be set a little higher for examples of figures of speech (if necesary invoking WP:IAR.--Boson (talk) 16:35, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
          • Would these work? one, two, three, four,five. I think that these would all qualify as reliable sources, and provide sufficient examples to get the point across. --Nuujinn (talk) 17:56, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
            • that is great if no one complains you should make the change! Aisha9152 (talk) 19:14, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Does anyone have any objections to stripping out the list of examples currently in place and replacing same with examples drawn from the list I've of sources I've provided? --Nuujinn (talk) 00:00, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Ok, just done! --Nuujinn (talk) 00:32, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
yay thanks! Aisha9152 (talk) 00:41, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Wendy Liebman[edit]

Hi. I do understand the desire to prevent the long list of examples from growing further. However, I do believe Wendy Liebman is a notable comic, who has made an entire career out of this type of construction. I can only find a single blog reference that calls her material paraprosdokian (first at paraprosdokian Wendy Liebman), but there is a wealth of video footage (eg) that citable quotes could be drawn from. Her site has reviews that describe her M.O. eg "She's a master of a throwaway line, of making a perfectly rational observation, then adding, almost subliminally, the punch line, which skews everything she has said before."LA Times

I'm not requesting immediate replacement in the article, but just wanted to place these notes here, until they become usable. :) -- Quiddity (talk) 18:32, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Misattribution of an example[edit]

"Have you ever tried just sitting down with your children, turning the TV off, and hitting them." I believe this was actually said by Bender B. Rodriguez in Futurama, Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV — not Homer Simpson as is currently stated. Also, the quote should probably end with a question mark. I'd change it myself, but the attribution seems to cite something and I don't have time to check that out. (talk) 21:53, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

I double checked the source, and the article reflects it. Do you have an alternate source? I wouldn't doubt that Bender also said it. --Nuujinn (talk) 23:37, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
As Nuujinn is saying, we go by what the reliable sources say. There's a citation for the attribution to Homer Simpson. If that's wrong, then it shouldn't be hard to find a different citation. I imagine the article we cite (from The Journal of Medical Speech) is using as its source Heinrichs, J. (2007). Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion. New York: Three Rivers Press. Anyone have access to a copy? -Phoenixrod (talk) 15:17, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
have you tried googling the quote? there are not a lot of results which is surprising. Aisha9152 (talk) 16:04, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure who's aware of this but both cartoon's are Groening's work, so my bet is the joke got recycled. --Nuujinn (talk) 16:48, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
There are quite a lot of hits if you replace "just" with "simply": "Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?" --Boson (talk) 20:24, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Misquoted by source[edit]

"Have you ever tried just sitting down with your children, turning the TV off, and hitting them."

That isn't from Homer Simpson. It's from Bender, in the Futurama episode Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Got a source? We follow sources, and don't worry about the truth. --Nuujinn (talk) 12:39, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
if you google the episode transcript its there though not the best source. maybe we should just remove that one entry it wont hurt anything. Aisha9152 (talk) 16:30, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
I have no objection to that notion, fwiw. --Nuujinn (talk) 22:37, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
ok i did it it was more trouble than its worth Aisha9152 (talk) 02:14, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

Invalid examples[edit]

To qualify, in my understanding, the sentence has to have two parts, the second part giving surprising new meaning to the first.

These examples don't qualify, in my view: "A modest man, who has much to be modest about." —Winston Churchill[4] "She looks as though she's been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say when." —P. G. Wodehouse[4]

The later Alistair Cooke and Churchill quotes are borderline at best.

SelectSplat (talk) 23:22, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Fortunately, we do not need to decide that, since we depend on reliable sources. FWIW, I "get" the surprise in the two quotes. --Nuujinn (talk) 00:00, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Those quotes citing the Journal of Medical Speech are all dubious- the journal article (looks like it came from a column rather than a paper) is itself only citing from the Figaro blog, which cites no primary sources to back up the quotes. The Wodehouse one is from here[1]. (talk) 12:20, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
SelectSplat is correct, many of the examples are not true examples, and the reliable sources are wrong. It's more than simply a one-liner, with two parts that are witty in combination. By that definition, virtually all one-liners would be paraprosdokians. You need a setup, followed by a knockdown, and the setup causes the listener to anticipate something different from what the knockdown delivers. Hence the surprise factor which makes it a paraprosdokian. Take the following two examples. In the second example, the first part leaves no anticipation and therefore no surprise.
"On the other hand, you have different fingers."
"I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
And Nuujinn is correct, none of this matters here, since Wikipedia is about citing reliable sources, not about truth. Strictly speaking, on a Talk page we're not even supposed to talk about whether a reliable source is correct or false. Mandruss (talk) 03:30, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

Mind rhymes?[edit]

Does this have a relation to mind rhymes? — (talk) 15:18, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

My recent revert[edit]

I don't think that Bill Casselman, an author of numerous books about words (mostly Canadian words, though :-) is an entirely non-reliable source. Loggerjack (talk) 02:28, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Country music[edit]

Country music is full of these witty twists. I wanted to add two examples, but was stymied by the article's requirement that some reliable source has to say they are paraprosdokia - even though it is obvious they are. Can they be added? Here are my examples. --MelanieN (talk) 20:22, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

"Low places" isn't much of an example; it probably falls more under another figure of speech than under this one... AnonMoos (talk) 06:09, 23 July 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ "Friends in Low Places". Garth Brooks lyrics. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Is It Cold In Here". Retrieved 22 July 2012. 


Paraprosdokian is the accusative of paraprosdokia in Greek. Should the article be moved in light of this? Even if it doesn't come up very often in English, article names should be in the nominative case. Would anyone object to a move? -Anagogist (talk) 19:45, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

Another example[edit]

"Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" - Yogi Berra — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:39, 4 October 2013 (UTC)