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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 Grammerbook.com. 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.

Reader Feedback

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    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 8 months ago from Superior, Arizona

      This was a great idea for a hub, and you covered the bases well. Maybe you should write one about baseball? Plenty of humor there too. Thanks for the laughs.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 15 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      I enjoyed this hub and wish you would do more. Thanks for the laugh, Stella

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      What a fun post! My daughter and I were just discussing some of these the other day. So, so funny. My favorite is the one is your #6, "I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you." Thanks for the laughs.

    • Ann Hinds profile image
      Author

      Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

      I hadn't heard that one. It made me laugh too. Thanks for sharing it.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      This article has made my day, Ann! I have never heard of the term Paraprosdokian, however, I am a huge fan of Groucho Marx. His humor is clever but sort of sneaks up on you. Many of the phrases made me laugh. This is one of my favorites from Groucho: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read".

    • Ann Hinds profile image
      Author

      Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

      I think they're funny too so I'm glad you enjoyed them.

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I never new there was a name for these type of sentences before. Very funny hub and just what I needed to start my day out :)

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 3 years ago

      Love your lens. Thanks for the laughs.

    • meggingmad profile image

      meggingmad 3 years ago

      I never forget a face, but in your case, I`m willing to make an exception. Groucho Marx.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      One of my favorites by Emo Phillips: I'll never forget my father's final words: "A Truck!"

    • profile image

      webscribbler 4 years ago

      I think the greatest thing about this type of humor is that it is truly timeless. It will always be funny and everyone can enjoy it. The folks you discuss were truly wordsmiths and knew how to make people laugh. They didn't need insulting, vulgarities to hide behind.

      I didn't know this cleverness had a name either. I'll probably forget the name but will remember that one exists. lol

    • profile image

      PterodactylSoup 4 years ago

      What actually got me to this page was the laugh you got out of me when I saw your name(very good) and found this Lens on your profile page. I didn't know that there was an actual phrase for this type of humor - I just call it wordplay(quote from 30rock). One of my best friends is very much like this, so much so it gets hard to have a conversation with him. One night after wordplaying(paraprosdokianing?) me for about ten minutes I got really annoyed and snapped at him "Oh shut up and pull my curtains!" to which his reply was to turn around and give my curtains a little tug and turn back around to me, I couldn't help but bend over laughing. Sorry for the long comment but really enjoyed this Lens, learned something too................Laugh and Learn!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I had no idea there was a name for this. Thanks for the education.

    • balancebydesign4u profile image

      Carol 4 years ago from Arkansas

      I never heard of this word before-paraprosdokian (did I spell it right??). This lens made me laugh out loud. My favorite-the Maxine card. Good job!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I didn't realise these sentences had a name until now. They are definitely funny!

    • SusanRDavis profile image

      Susan R. Davis 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Lots of laughter coming out on this one. I loved these, and found several I already knew. But the Winston Churchill ones were quite entertaining.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You've left quite an impression, I won't say what kind of impression, but an impression still.

    • scottemak lm profile image

      scottemak lm 4 years ago

      ahha so hilarious! awesome job! id appreciate it if you'd check some of my lenses out too!

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

      Love it!

    • mggxx81 profile image

      mggxx81 4 years ago

      Thanks for laugh!

    • semperdivina lm profile image

      semperdivina lm 4 years ago

      Too funny - thanks for the laugh

    • Valerie P Davis profile image

      Valerie Proctor Davis 4 years ago from Birmingham, Alabama

      I didn't realize there was a name for this! Very clever lens.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      Very funny lens. I'd never heard of paraproskodian sentences but they are funny! Blessed:)

    • profile image

      CatarinaAz 4 years ago

      Hahahaha! Good spending time here!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Fantastic. Thank you for publishing this collection of laughs. You made my day.

    • profile image

      MCat711 4 years ago

      Cool lens! As for paraprosdokian sentences, how about the classic, "I still miss my ex, but my aim is getting better."

    • Phoenix2361 profile image

      Phoenix2361 4 years ago

      Of course I love this lens. You have so many of my favourites here. Great job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Fun lens. I enjoyed reading these, and like you, didn't know there was a name for them.

    • whiteskyline lm profile image

      whiteskyline lm 4 years ago

      That was great, I love these

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      What a fun and humorous lens!

    • profile image

      SororPeregrina 5 years ago

      My own Maxine favorite: "I have a dream for all mankind: Cramps."

      Love this lens!

    • profile image

      tomprat 5 years ago

      I always loved Groucho's one liners, I had no idea they had such a complex name. Thanks for the great lens

    • Normyo Yonormyo profile image

      Normyo Yonormyo 5 years ago

      Thanks for a great lens and learned a new English word, hope I can remember it.

    • profile image

      PhloxPapyrus 5 years ago

      First sentence popped into my head:"I'm not questioning your honor,I'm denying its existence." -Tyrion Lannister

    • menskincaretips profile image

      menskincaretips 5 years ago

      Hilarious! This definitely made my day, I'll be using some of these ;) Thanks!

    • profile image

      kmyangel 5 years ago

      All the paraprosdokian sentences are great ! "Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak." - this is my favorite one !

      Thanks for sharing ! Kisses :*

    • profile image

      seegreen 5 years ago

      I love these. Wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      If I've done something that I should be sorry for, I'm willing to be forgiven.

    • piarejuden profile image

      piarejuden 5 years ago

      What an amazing lens! You are an inspiration! These set my day on the right path,, they were hilarious!

    • profile image

      brendajoy 5 years ago

      The whole thing is awesome! I miss Groucho, we watched him faithfully when I was a kid. I never heard of paraprosdokian sentences before. Thanks for cluing me in. It was great fun and giggles.

    • Nimsrules LM profile image

      Nirmal Shah 5 years ago from India

      laughed till my ribs ached. Stupendous lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thought I would stop by and see what's new here. Such a fun lens, you have a great sense of humor my dear. <3

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Popping back in to bless this lens! :)

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      THAT was funny. THANKS! I had not heard the work paraprosdokian before, but have always enjoyed the humor.

    • profile image

      soaringsis 5 years ago

      Making anyone smile is a gift.I shall return whenever I need a little help with being

      made to feel good. Love your lens.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      What a great idea for a lens-what a great lens---I will show myself out

    • tricomanagement profile image

      tricomanagement 5 years ago

      Erma and Winston - what more could one ask for - but I won't go there

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      Know this, O worthy and diligent lensmaster;

      With accomplishment youâve earned a tryster.

      As a token of immense appreciation expressed,

      A squid angel leaves this lens heartily blessed.

      On a rendering that is sparkling in its own right,

      Propagating an appealing thought well and quite;

      If you were to notice a slender shimmering crust;

      From the angelâs wand, it is a spill of stardust.

    • profile image

      Jolent 5 years ago

      Absolutely fantastic! I had no idea these fun sentences actually had a name. Now, I think I may be hooked.

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 5 years ago

      These are fantastic... I've been a fan of these sentences and these wordsmiths for a long time without knowing the word paraprosdokian. Thanks

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      Many thanks for introducing me to the term paraprosdokian. I had never heard it before, but know now that I have long been intrigued by the paraprosdokian thought process.

    • profile image

      RStiltskin 5 years ago

      Excellent lens-

      Reminds of Woody Allen, many, many years ago explaining he was expelled from college for cheating--with the deans wife!

    • profile image

      joe-johnso 5 years ago

      @hntrssthmpsn: this lens is complete, the editor is talentous!

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 5 years ago

      What fun! This certainly made me laugh.

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 5 years ago

      Well, I think I learned a new word today.. but I will wait a few minutes to see if I can remember it LOL. Great stuff!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the good laugh. Nothing brightens the day like a good chuckle.

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 5 years ago

      I never knew what those types of sentences were..blessings

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      funny lens! I always like reading lens like this :)

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      I have never heard of Paraprosdokian Sentences! One of the many reasons I love Squidoo...I learn something new everyday! :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Well, I was feeling my troubles pretty bad before I read this and I do longer am! Thanks so much,bookmarked, liked, angel blessed, facebook liked and any other kind of liked I can think of - thanks so much for writing this!

    • writergrey profile image

      writergrey 5 years ago

      What a great Lens! I enjoyed the wit and it was wonderful to see a little of Erma Bombeck, I love her humor.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Really had a great time here. Thanks for teaching me a new word. Always love to be surprised with something that expands my vocabulary. Have always loved Erma Bombeck and Maxine. They really know how to make us laugh.

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      These are hilarious!

    • Valerie Bloom profile image

      Valerie Bloom 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Thanks for the laughs and good information.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      Loved it!

    • Karli McClane profile image

      Psycho Free Zone 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the laughs! : )

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Nice Lens :D I added you to my list of Fun with English lenses on some of my lenses.

    • profile image

      bolillie 5 years ago

      How fun! I had no idea there was actually a name for these sentences. Loved reading this lens!!

    • iWriteaLot profile image

      iWriteaLot 5 years ago

      "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." ROFLMBO!! Paraprosdokian??? I'm not even going to try to pronounce that one. Blessed

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Someday, there will be a word that came from my name!

    • ViJuvenate profile image

      ViJuvenate 5 years ago

      I love it! I had no idea there was a word for that. Learned something new! (and I shared that word on Facebook) LOL

    • Holysheepskin LM profile image

      Holysheepskin LM 5 years ago

      So fun! Made me smile...thanks!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      Love this lens! I also love Paraprosdikian Sentences, and it never even occurred to me that there might be a WORD for them!!! Awesome!

    • rangiiria profile image

      rangiiria 5 years ago

      It's always good to smile. Paraprosdikian - I've learnt a new word today and its meaning

      :-} thanks.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      I had no idea there was an actual name for these sentences! Absolutely delightful lens - thanks for a lot of smiles today!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      So, I know what these sentences are called! I enjoyed the What's My Line? video with Groucho. It's so cool that your Dad was on You Bet Your Life.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      I had no idea there was a word for this, but I've always loved the one-liners!

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      i did not know about this before but now, i learned something. thank you.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      i did not know about this before but now, i learned something. thank you.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 5 years ago

      I love paraprosdokian sentences. Thanks for letting me know exactly what it is that I love. (And yes, I did copy and paste the term,)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Would Buddha refuse homeles people? He preached dispossession, so... What's the point?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You learn from your mistakes. I want to learn a lot, so....I think I'm on the right path!

    • wolley811 profile image

      wolley811 5 years ago

      Awesome lens! :) Made me laugh all throughout the entire thing! Blessings to you!

    • wolley811 profile image

      wolley811 5 years ago

      Awesome lens! :) Made me laugh all throughout the entire thing! Blessings to you!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      Had a few laughs here. Well done, great work.

    • mrducksmrnot profile image

      mrducksmrnot 5 years ago

      Love these one liner's for sure. Very well done.

    • Banyantree LM profile image

      Banyantree LM 5 years ago

      Good Lens -- With humor and points to ponder !!!!!

    • thedailysatire profile image

      thedailysatire 5 years ago

      Great word and funny examples. I always like to be educated and entertained at the same time!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Para-what-ever! These are fun and funky! :)

    • CanDoDaddy profile image

      CanDoDaddy 5 years ago

      Absolutely the best for two reasons: this lens gave me my first laugh of the day (and probably the best one) and I had no idea what that "P' word meant. Now I think I do. Thanks

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      So glad I found this lens today. We are having tornado warnings in AL and I needed something to take my mind off of the weather. :)

    • profile image

      AnnaleeBlysse 5 years ago

      I don't recall hearing paraprosdokian as description before. This lens got me giggling this morning!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      Excellent! thanks for the introduction to the term paraprosdokian. I thought it must be some kind of joke, when I read the lens title.

    • jays23 lm profile image

      jays23 lm 5 years ago

      I didn't even know such word existed. My poor limited vocabulary. I really enjoyed reading this lens. I just wanted to thank you when I first created my first lens, you took time to comment on my profile when you couldn't find a guest comment section on my lens about monster nightmares. I realized the importance of the guest comment section. Thanks so much again!

    • OldStones LM profile image

      OldStones LM 5 years ago

      Excellent, I love the Paraprosdokian sentences. They are one of my favorite bits of comedic schtick.

    • BestToysReviews profile image

      BestToysReviews 5 years ago

      Paraprosdokian? That's too hard to pronounce :D

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 5 years ago

      This is a very nice and entertaining lens!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Haha, this is great! This made my day. I had no idea that there was a word for this type of joke either. Fascinating!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      This was a good lens to end my day (with laughter). Please accept this angel's blessings.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Thoroughly entertaining as well as informational. I love studies of language, especially analyses of the ways it can be structured to produce humor. The Maxine cartoon is great!