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What's a Paraprosdokian?

Updated on October 19, 2011

Figures of speech: paraprosdokians

As a lover of words and language, I really enjoy colorful figures of speech, including paraprosdokians. You’re probably used or heard lots of paraprosdokian sentences or paraprosdokian phrases. I enjoy making up my own, but I also enjoy reading paraprosdokian quotes that others have invented. Many times, a paraprosdokian will stop to make you think about what you’ve just heard. They often elicit a smile or a giggle, too. If you have a good paraprosdokian, please add it in the comment section!

Paraprosdokian definition

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech where the last part of a phrase or sentence doesn’t match the first part. In other words, the second half of the phrase or sentence is somewhat of a surprise. Paraprosdokians often begin with the first part of an old saying or adage, but the ending is changed, often for a comedic effect. Sometimes, however, a paraprosdokian can have a deeper meaning that might reveal a truth. An example of paraprosdokian quotes that fall into this category would be “A woman without a man…is like a fish without a bicycle.”

One of my favorite paraprosdokians: "Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read."  Groucho Marks
One of my favorite paraprosdokians: "Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read." Groucho Marks

Paraprosdokian sentences - paraprosdokian phrases

Money can’t buy love…but it makes it easier to rent!

Where there’s a will…I hope to be in it!

Time flies…when you’re paying by the hour.

Time flies…and poops on your face!

You’re never too old to learn something…totally useless.

Change is inevitable…except from a vending machine.

Four score and seven years ago…I could remember the rest of this!

Fight fire with fire…but water works better.

Always remember that you’re unique…just like everyone else.

Behind every successful man is his woman…behind the fall of every successful man is the other woman.

Money can’t buy happiness…but it makes suffering so much more comfy!

If you’re not part of the solution…you’re probably a politician.

Work fascinates me…I could sit and watch it for hours!

Honesty is the best policy…except when you’re doing your taxes.

Before you judge someone, walk a mile in his shoes…then you’ll have free shoes and be a mile away so the owner can’t catch you.

Life is just a bowl of…cream of wheat, at my age!

Old soldiers never die…they get desk jobs at the Pentagon.

Teach a man to fish…and you’ll never see him on weekends.

A woman’s place is…in the mall.

The Bible says “spare the rod and spoil the child”…so that’s what I do. I spare the rod, and I spoil the grandchildren.

Gentlemen prefer…women who aren’t ladies.

The early bird gets the worm…but the second mouse gets the cheese.

When in Rome…be sure to have lots of cash.

The long arm of the law…often has a donut at one end.

I don’t drink anymore…or any less.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism…to steal from many is research.

War doesn’t determine who is right…only who is left.

Two guys walk into a bar…you’d think one of them would have seen it.

I used to have a perfect body…but it’s been in my trunk for a week and is beginning to smell.

I used to be conceited…but now I’m perfect.

A bird in the hand…can be pretty nasty.

Famous paraprosdokian quotes

If I could just say a few words…I’d be a better public speaker. Homer Simpson

Outside a dog, a book is man’s best friend…inside a dog, it’s too dark to read. Groucho Marx

I sleep eight hours a day…and at least ten at night. Bill Hicks

It’s not the men in my life that counts…it’s the life in my men. Mae West

You only live once…but if you do it right, once is enough. Mae West

A fool and his money are soon…elected. Will Rogers

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my father…not screaming and terrified like his passengers. Bob Monkhouse

I haven’t slept for ten days…because that would be too long. Mitch Hedberg

Variety is the spice of life…marriage is a big can of leftover Spam. Johnny Carson

If you can’t beat ‘em…arrange to have them beaten. George Carlin

Curiosity killed the cat…but for a while, I was a suspect. Steven Wright

Action speaks louder than words…but not nearly as often. Mark Twain

The road to success…is always under construction. Lily Tomlin

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty…now she’s ninety-seven, and we don’t know where the hell she is. Ellen Degeneres

Time is a great teacher…but unfortunately, it kills all its pupils. Louis Hector Berlioz


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    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      MT, so glad you enjoyed the paraprosdokians!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      These are great - so funny!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      LOL! Sorry, HH.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      You will get me more confused with the English language as I m already. lol

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      herbie, I like to the same thing with paraprosdokians! I love to see the expression on people's faces that these figures of speach elicit. lol

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

      OH wow...there are some REALLY good ones here...many I've never heard. Bookmarked..will need to fit these into conversation here and there. lol

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, random!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for a hub! Wonderful information and examples.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Lol, holy! Glad you enjoyed the paraprosdokians! I actually made some of them up.

    • holyjeans30 profile image

      Amy D. 6 years ago from Mostly in My Own Little World

      Lol, you have listed some great parapros....whatever they are. I had to write a couple down so I could use them later. Great hub. Voted up.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      drbj, maybe we're related - aren't you from FL? My mom and her parents lived in West Palm Beach when Mom was young! lol

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Jenu, glad I sent you a smile. Thanks for stopping by!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      A praprosdokian, Holle. Isn't that a pair of prosdokians? These para things are one of my favorite types of humor because really great oneliners depend on the surprise at the end of the statement.

      And now I'm convinced that we are sisters - just have different mothers. Because the Groucho book/dog quote is my favorite paraprosdokian. True!

      Thanks for the clever write.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      Love it, never knew there was a term for witty remarks.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Mary, glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      anj, I'm so glad the paraprosdokians gave you some giggles!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Zen, it's funny that when I was writing this hub, I figured folks would think it was about some sort of critter!! Great minds, my friend. lol

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 6 years ago from Florida

      I loved this! You have quite a collection of these quotes. I've never heard of this term before, but these are priceless. Thanks for the humor at the end of my day.

    • anjperez profile image

      anjperez 6 years ago

      i just woke up here and i already had a good laugh. thanks! (,")

    • Hillbilly Zen profile image

      Hillbilly Zen 6 years ago from Kentucky

      I thought maybe you'd discovered some bizarre new breed of critter in your backyard! Great Hub, Ms. habee - the giggles are much appreciated.


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