Paraprosdokians. New year, new word for Iris! No, it’s not some rival family to the Kardashians hoping to cash in on the booming growth industry of Existing Near Cameras For No Discernible Reason, which was naturally my first thought. Paraprosdokians:
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, phrase, or larger discourse is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part.
Winston Churchill was reportedly a fan; Groucho Marx and Steven Wright made careers out of them. Some examples:
Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
This one’s attributed to Groucho Marx:
I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.