Humorous Quotations: My Favorite Paraprosdokians

What You Say Whey You Want To Sound Witty
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

So what is a paraprosdokian? It 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.

Abraham Lincoln used them all the time, but did not call them that because the word had not yet been invented. Churchill used them, as do many comedians.

Bill Funchion, who’s a regular contributor to recently sent us some wonderful examples of paraprosdokians. Thanks Bill.

• “He was at his best when the going was good.” —Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor[1]

•”If I am reading this graph correctly — I’d be very surprised.” —Stephen Colbert[4]

• “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else.” —Winston Churchill[4]

• “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.” —Dorothy Parker[4]

• “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” —Groucho Marx[5]

• “A modest man, who has much to be modest about.” — supposedly Winston Churchill, about Clement Attlee[5]

• “She looks as though she’s been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say ‘when’.” —P. G. Wodehouse[5]

• “If I could just say a few words… I’d be a better public speaker.” —Homer Simpson[6]

• “I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.” —Mitch Hedberg[3]

• “I sleep eight hours a day and at least ten at night.” —Bill Hicks

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

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“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject. In addition, this small volume contains ‘Biographical Notes’ on the main figures cited.” —Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives

A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president, the book offers rich material for interpretation, reflection, and spiritual guidance.

In these pages, Lincoln shares his wisdom on courage and determination, compassion and compromise, tolerance and tact.

We think you will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.

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Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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