Non sequitur (literary device)

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A non sequitur (English: /ˌnɒnˈsɛkwɪtər/; Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr] "it does not follow") is a conversational literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it,[1] seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.

This use of the term is distinct from the non sequitur in logic, where it is a fallacy.


The expression is Latin for "it does not follow."[2] It comes from the words "non" meaning "not" and "sequor" meaning "to follow". (The verb sequor, sequi, secutus sum is a deponent, meaning that its passive forms have active meanings.[3])


A non sequitur can denote an abrupt, illogical, or unexpected turn in plot or dialogue by including a relatively inappropriate change in manner. A non sequitur joke sincerely has no explanation, but it reflects the idiosyncrasies, mental frames and alternative world of the particular comic persona.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  2. ^ Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary.
  3. ^ "The Latin Library "Deponent Verbs"" (PDF).
  4. ^ Chambers, Robert (2010). Parody: The Art that Plays with Art. Peter Lang Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-1433108693. Retrieved 2014-09-17. Along with a rhythmic pattern, these jokes, however absurd they may be, build dual frames of reference, if not alternative worlds entirely reflecting the idiosyncrasies of the individual stand-up artist.

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