We see them all the time in memes and 50’s style e-cards – but did you know that the name for these thought-provoking little quips is ‘paraprosdokians’?

What an utterly fabulous word!

paradosdokian 2

A paraprosdokian is a phrase that’s characterised by an ubrupt change of direction at the end, often to humorous effect. For example:

  • War does not determine who is right, only who is left.
  • If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  • Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  • The last thing I want to do is to hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

– and one close to every copywriters heart –

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

Winston Churchill loved them, so did Groucho Marx. If you can think of any good ones, let me know!