It is probable that most people would just put away this article on glancing at the title! For, the mere sight of such complicated words as ‘paraprosdokian’ is not a welcoming one and it might send the reader packing. So, right before we begin to explore this word, let's solve our primary difficulty, that is, uttering this word: ‘para’ + ‘pros’ + ‘dokian’. There, that’s simpler. But even though this slakes the initial pang of complexity that might have arisen in one’s mind, we’re yet to fully discover this word. And if talking about its history, it actually originates from Greek.
Surprisingly enough, it was first used in the 20th century. The few Greek derivatives that have contributed to the making of this word signify one meaning: ‘Unexpectedly’. And to top it all, the meaning of the word does quite resemble this one! But then again, it has to resemble it! So, the definition is in this way: “when the second part of a sentence is unexpected such that the reader has to re-read the first part of the sentence, then it’s a paraprosdokian’. One thing that holds true for every paraprosdokian is that its main intention is to generate humor, or to even confuse the reader. Another thing noteworthy to be added is that paraprosdokians are all about examples.
Thus, it goes without saying that that’s what we ought to consider now: “When you are not a part of the solution, you’re the precipitate”. After reading the first half, one might expect some witty one-liner or so, but the other half totally nonplusses you! It is funny in the sense of chemistry; when a chemical reaction occurs, there’s a solution, and sometimes - a precipitate, meaning the residue. Of course, just knowing this much is enough to understand this one, but here, it is used just for humour’s sake, and doesn’t have significance. Let us proceed to the next example: ‘Where there’s a will, there's bound to be a crime’. The original saying is like this: ‘Where there's a will, there’s a way’, but the above one is a paraprosdokian, and one with some meaning. The word ‘will’ here refers to its latter meaning, that is, the testament made by a person after his death. This much is clear, but why a crime after that?
Well, for the simple reason that in many crime stories, the main motive for the crime is the desire to earn the money from the will left by a deceased person. So, when there’s a will left behind by a person, there might as well be a crime to obtain the will, as is said. The next example is: ‘An apple a day keeps the other fruits away.’ It’s no wonder the actual saying is like ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, and does carry meaning, yet this paraprosdokian diminishes it; that is, not much can be said here; just the fact that eating only apples would keep you away from the other fruits. That’s all there is to this. Lastly, let us investigate this humourous paraprosdokian that is pretty common: ‘I used to be indecisive earlier, but I’m not so sure now’. What’s the catch here? Well, just that being ‘indecisive’ and being ‘not so sure’ are two totally same things! Well, so much for examples! This does give the reader a pretty fair idea of what paraprosdokians are, and hopefully, does not give them a scare!