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Paraprosdokian Sentences - The best kind of humor

Updated on September 9, 2014

I can't claim these paraprosdokian sentences

"She got her good looks from her father; he's a plastic surgeon""

This quote, from Groucho Marx, was my first exposure to paraprosdokian sentences. Not that I hadn't heard them but that there was actually a name for the sentences or phrases. Paraprosdokian sentences are when the end of the sentences causes one to rethink the first part of the sentence. It can be more than one sentence but the point is the ending is not expected.

With that in mind, I went looking for more.

Clicking on the link below will pronounce the word for you. I have found no help in learning how to spell it other than to suggest that you write it ten times. That's what we do with our grandson and his spelling words. Although I have written it here more than 10 times, it was a cut and paste so I still can't spell it.

Paraprosdokian sentences

This list is from You'll need to check out the link to read the rest but here are my 10 favorites.

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

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

3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

5. Some people are like Slinky's, not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

6. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.

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

8. Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

9. If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?

10. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car"

— Bob Monkhouse

Groucho Marx

The King of Paraprosdokian sentences

Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was born October 2, 1890. He was a comedian and known for his quick wit and one-liners. He made 13 films with his siblings. He also starred in two radio and television game shows, You Bet Your Life (where my father was a contestant) and Tell it to Groucho. He was instantly recognizable with his glasses, cigars and greasepaint mustache and eyebrows. He passed away on August 19, 1977.

Some of my favorite Groucho Paraprosdokian sentences are:

She got her good looks from her father; he's a plastic surgeon

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it."

Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.

Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.

Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.

Humor is reason gone mad.

I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

Learn more about Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx - You Bet Your Life
Groucho Marx - You Bet Your Life
My father was a contestant on this show in the 1950's. You bet your life was funny then and it still is today.

Little bit of Grocho Marx

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

Winston Churchill

Another cigar smoker with a talent for Paraprosdokian sentences

One of the greatest statesman of all time, Winston Churchill was also a master at paraprosdokian sentences.

"You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing - after they have tried everything else."

"A modest man, who has much to be modest about."

"There but for the grace of God - goes God."

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

— Winston Churchill

Learn more about Winston Churchill

The Wit & Wisdom of Winston Churchill
The Wit & Wisdom of Winston Churchill
This book comes with a warning. If you are politically correct, it's not for you. Winston Churchill was a force to be reckoned with. However, he was an extremely witty man and that humor is shared here.

Winston Churchill as Prime Minister

The Second World War
The Second World War
Winston Churchill was in the prime position to fully explain and educate about the Second World War. Those who are interested in the war should definitely read these books. Included are some of the original documents that Churchill had access to.

If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

Take my wife-please

Henny Youngman

Henny Youngman was also a master at Paraprosdokian sentences. His "Take my wife - Please" is probably the best known but there are so many more. He was born in Britain on March 16, 1906. He passed away on February 24, 1998. He is known for his comedy routine that included a violin and a series of one-liners. Here are just a few.

"Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who'll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you're in the wrong house, that's what it means."

"I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays."

"I played a great horse yesterday! It took seven horses to beat him."

"I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back."

"I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places."

"I've been in love with the same woman for forty-one years. If my wife finds out, she'll kill me."

"I've got all the money I'll ever need, if I die by four o'clock."

More about Henny Youngman

Take My Life, Please!
Take My Life, Please!
The book written by Henny Youngman describes his life and his rise to success.

A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.

— Henny Youngman

LOL - Henny Youngman video

I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes.

— Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck - Always a favorite

If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?
If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?
Published in 1985, it is by far my favorite of all her books. That's saying a lot because I have them all and reread them when I have time. Erma Bombeck was all about family.

If this doesn't make you laugh, nothing will

The Hallmark website is below for all the Maxine cartoons. Of all the lines that they carry, this is absolutely my favorite.


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