Paraprosdokian comes from the Greek language, means "beyond expectations." It is a term for an unexpected turn toward the end of a phrase, sentence, stanza, or paragraph. When a writer has used paraprosdokian, the unexpected shift in meaning toward the end of a sentence, stanza, or paragraph often causes the reader to have to rethink what has come before. Paraprosdokian often plays on the meaning of words, and creates a humorous effect.
From Winston Churchill:
"You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing-after they have tried everything else."
From Will Rogers:
"A fool and his money are soon elected."
From Emo Phillips:
"When I was 10, I beat up the school bully. His arms were in casts. That's what gave me the courage."
From Groucho Marx:
"She got her good looks from her father; he's a plastic surgeon."
Also from Groucho Marx:
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
From Mitch Hedberg:
"I haven't slept for ten days because that would be too long."
Literary Terms Examples