I got an email today listing a bunch of paraprosdokians. I know, it’s a mouthful. It’s Greek. It means “contrary to expectation,” and refers to a sentence, especially a maxim or popular saying, that sets you up to expect a certain ending, and then gives a totally different and unexpected one – usually humorous. Probably the most famous paraprosdokian sentence is Henny Youngman’s “Take my wife – please!”
There was an episode of All in the Family years ago where Edith’s friend from the Sunshine Home, Mr. Quigley, was always citing paraprosdokians. One that I remember is “One good turn . . . gets most of the covers.” Winston Churchill is said to have been a fan of these sayings, as were comedians Steven Wright and Rodney Dangerfield.
Here are some of my favorites. Click the “comment” button to share yours!
“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”
“There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.”
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”
“On the other hand, you have different fingers.”
“The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on the list.”