What on earth are paraprosdokians?
Other than being a fantastic word to say, they refer to a phrase that consists of two parts. The first part seems innocent enough, but the second part subverts the meaning of the first part and flips the interpretation on its head.
Here are some of my favourites!
- “A modest man, who has much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill, supposedly about Clement Attlee
- War doesn’t determine who is right, but only who is left.
- Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.
- Some people cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
- If I saw things from your perspective, then we’d both be wrong.
- The last thing I want to do is offend you, but it’s still on my list.
- It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. (Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, though it is remarkably similar to the biblical proverb: “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent” (Proverbs 17:28 NAS).)
- I’m missing my ex-wife, but my aim is improving.
- I’m reading a book on anti-gravity, and I can’t put it down.
- Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. (Attributed to Albert Einstein.)
- I asked God for a Bentley, but I knew God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a Bentley and asked for His forgiveness.
Obviously, paraprosdokians are the bread and butter of comedy – but now you know what they’re called!
Read about them here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/178956/two-part-phrases-official-term