Wednesday Writing Word: Zeugma

Zeugma

/ˈzugmə/  |  ZOOG-muh

 

Zeugma is a fun little device that occurs when a word is used in multiple contexts simultaneously – i.e., to mean two (or sometimes more) things at once as it applies separately to the other words in its purview.  Mostly used for humorous brevity, it naturally requires that the word have some homonymous or polysemic properties.

 

Examples:

  • Billy ran from the slog and for mayor.
  • The minstrel plays the flute almost as well as he does the fool.
  • I punched the slog with fury, indignation, and my fist.
  • I like chips in my cookies, not my teeth.

 

Bene scribete.

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2 responses to “Wednesday Writing Word: Zeugma

  1. Thank you! That’s one of my favorite language tricks, and now I know there’s a word for it. A cool sounding word, too.

    My favorite usage (I think this qualifies) is from a sci-fi parody I wrote: “Astro-Gal breathed deeply, straining the laces of her jumpsuit and the credulity of anyone familiar with mammalian anatomy.”

    • Hehe, yep, perfect example!

      It’s funny how many words there are for all the little turns of language you use without really thinking about them. (>^-‘)> Syllepsis is another (less crazy sounding) term for this same rhetoric device, but it also carries a secondary connotation of a word being used in multiple ways when it only logically applies to one of them.

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