Sunday Wordplay: Keeping Up With the Paraprosdokians

paraprosdokian sign Catalina Island October 2007

Hey, remember back in the day before Twitter and Facebook when people used to forward e-mails around all the time? Some people still do (they’re probably your older relatives), even when it might be better if they didn’t. This post was inspired by a forwarded e-mail from my aunt, a retired New York City public-school teacher.

GrammarBook.com offers the following definition of a paraprosdokian:

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.

(Just in case there’s any confusion, it is not a long-lost Kardashian.)

The e-mail included some pithy observations about life that provide examples of paraprosdokians at work–hope you enjoy ’em, and feel free to add your own in the comments!

Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.


Where there’s a will, there are relatives.


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

Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright
until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.


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

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

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

Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my
desk is a work station.


I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice. (This might be my favorite.)

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.


I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure. (No, maybe this is my favorite…)

You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

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

And on that note, have a great Sunday!

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