I would like to spend the day experimenting with a hybrid coffee bean I’m developing, so I thought I’d give you recidivists something meaty to chew on today. It’s not a word, per se, but a grammatical technique.

Paraprosdokian is a figure of speech wherein the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader to rethink or re-interpret the sentence or phrase. It is often used for comedic or dramatic effect.

It’s origins are found in the Greek παρα- beyond and προσδοκία – expectation. The term, though, seems to be a recent coinage.

You’ve undoubtedly heard paraprosdokians from Groucho Marx. My favorite is from “A Night At The Opera”: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”

One I know you’ve heard before: I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Mull those over, won’t you?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must change. I’ve been writing this in my pajamas; what the computer is doing in my pajamas I’ll never know.

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