Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day (prettygoodword) wrote in 1word1day,
Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day
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Thursday word: paraprosdokian

paraprosdokian (pa-ra-prohz-DOH-kee-an) - n., a figure of speech in which the latter part of a phrase or sentence causes the listener/reader to reinterpret the first part.


The key being that the end is surprising. When done well, you get good comedy: "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." "I haven't slept for ten days because that would be too long." When done badly, you get a garden path sentence: "The girl told the story cried." "The raft floated down the river sank." "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms" (which is a real headline, the one for which crash blossoms were named). As for the word itself, like most rhetorical terms, it was adopted from Greek (literal meaning: "beyond expectation") -- the ancient Greeks loved analyzing how to speak.

---L.
Tags: adjective, greek, noun, p
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