Thursday, June 16, 2011


This is another fun term for writers, and something we can keep in mind if we need a bit of humor in dialogue or our character's thoughts.

Here is the definition:

"Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation."

"Where there's a will, I want to be in it," is a type of paraprosdokian.

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 paychecks.

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. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

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

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

20. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

21. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

22. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

23. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

24. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

25. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

26. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

27. A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

28. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.

29. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

Words of Wisdom:

"The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

What do you think -- does anyone use paraprosdokians in your writing?


A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

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  1. I never knew the term for this but yes, I use this in my dialogue. I also use it with my MC's thoughts a lot. She's tough on herself and makes all kinds of crazy comments (well thoughts, mostly) but sometimes she let's it out for others to hear - to her embarrassment. Great post. Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Thanks for sharing these, I'd heard a few of them before but most are new to me so I got a few laughs.

    I never knew the term either and still doubt I could say it out loud :)

  3. I didn't know - and can't pronounce - the term, but I love these!!! And I know just the right character to use them with!

  4. I'm still laughing — and thinking how these wonderful little "twists" can enhance characters and make them oh, so real. This takes suspending disbelief to a hilarious new level.

  5. Thanks for the grins. I never know the terms for all these things. And when I do find them, I tend to forget them, or forget where I put them so I won't forget them. Maybe you know the term for splitting a word and sticking another one in the middle .. like, "Abso-blooming-lutely"

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  6. I didn't know the term but love them! I have a character or two in my MG work that could get away using these.

  7. I'm another who'd never heard of this term. Thanks!

  8. Oh, this is great. I've learned a new word and started the day with many many good laughs. Thank you.

  9. I've put a link on twitter and facebook too.

  10. It's fun to find these little gems.
    Terry, I have not run across a term for splitting a word and sticking another one in the middle (like, "Abso-blooming-lutely"). I went online looking, but haven't come up with anything yet!

  11. Heh. I've heard most of these, some of which in a slightly different way, but they're still amusing. :)

    How does one pronounce "Paraproskokians" anyway? I must go look that up.

  12. What fun. I have never seen that word, and also wonder how one would pronounce it. Thanks for the chuckles.

  13. This is a good way to use a cliche but put a different spin on it. One of the key elements of humor and humor writing that I learned from Erma Bombeck.

  14. Fun post, Heidi! Here's a paraprosdokianism that comes to mind. First, the original saying from Ecclesiastes: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

    Damon Runyon says: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.

  15. I used this as the "Word of the Day" for my students to define and create and ORIGINAL! This was for test bonus and they had a blast with it and used a word (hopefully, LEARNED, a new word that most people don't know! Plus, it reached deep down in their creativity! By the way, I'm a science teacher, not an English teacher. Words are everywhere!!!!
    My original paraprosdokian (PARA - PROS-DO - KIAN; USE A LONG O FOR DO).
    "Where there is a will, there is usually a dead grandmother!"

    Carol the Science Teacher


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