Paraprosdokian | Examples & Definition

A paraprosdokian is a humorous figure of speech in which the latter part of an expression takes a surprising turn, requiring the audience to reframe the first part.

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

Examples of paraprosdokians are typically found in everyday jokes, literature, or performance art (e.g., stand-up comedy, TV, or film).

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What Is a Cliché? | Definition, Meaning & Examples

A cliché is an expression or trope that has lost its impact due to excessive use in a given cultural context. “Time heals all wounds” is an example of a cliché.

Clichés are often perceived as a sign of a lack of effort, imagination, or sincerity in writing, speech, and creative works.

Examples of clichés
Actions speak louder than words.

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

What goes around comes around.

Scribbr’s Paraphrasing Tool can help you find alternatives to clichés and find your unique voice.

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What Is a Paradox? | Definition & Examples

Paradoxes are thought-provoking statements or situations that seem self-contradictory or ironic. Some paradoxes reveal truths through seemingly irrational statements, while others expose flaws in conventional reasoning.

Paradox example
“Less is more” is an everyday example of a paradox. This saying is typically used to highlight the impact and appeal of a simple, minimalist aesthetic.

Examples of paradoxes can be found in everyday expressions, literature, and academic domains such as logic and philosophy.

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Play on Words | Examples & Meaning

A play on words, often referred to as wordplay, is an expression that manipulates the meanings, sounds, spellings, or arrangement of words to achieve humor, irony, or layers of meaning. The term is sometimes used as a synonym for “pun,” but it can encompass various other devices that use language in clever, innovative ways.

Play on words example
Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.

Examples of plays on words can be found in media, literature, marketing, and everyday conversations. These wordplay examples include puns, double entendres, portmanteaus, palindromes, malapropisms, oxymorons, and paraprosdokians.

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What Is Verbal Irony? | Definition & Examples

Verbal irony involves using language in an indirect, non-literal manner, with an intended meaning that is different from (and often opposite to) the literal meanings of the words. This rhetorical technique can serve various purposes, including humor, sarcasm, and persuasion.

Verbal irony example
“By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.”

In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly, the exacting editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, uses verbal irony to express frustration with her assistant.

Examples of verbal irony can be found in artistic contexts like literature and film as well as everyday contexts like social media conversations.

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Double Entendre | Examples, Definition & Meaning

A double entendre is a type of wordplay that involves one straightforward meaning and another implied, risqué meaning. While sometimes used to simply mean “pun,” a true double entendre traditionally implies taboo innuendo.

Double entendre example
I like to have a Martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

Double entendres are used for humor or subtle communication and can add humor and complexity to literature, comedy, and everyday conversation.

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What Is a Pun? | Definition, Examples & Types

A pun is a form of wordplay that uses terms with similar or identical sounds or spellings for humorous effect. Puns can also underscore irony, contribute to character development, or highlight absurdity.

Pun examples
Never trust an atom; they make up everything.

I told a chemistry joke, but there was no reaction.

I became well red by reading in the sun.

Puns are a common form of wordplay in comedy, literature, film, and everyday life.

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What Is a Portmanteau? | Definition & Examples

A portmanteau is a word created by blending sounds and meanings from multiple other words (e.g., friend + enemy = frenemy). Portmanteaus describe concepts or phenomena in a concise, easily understood, and sometimes amusing way.

Portmanteau examples
Our athleisure line combines the comfort of athletic wear with the style of streetwear. (athletic + leisure)

I recorded a vlog documenting my search for the perfect Christmas tree. (video + log)

Fans cosplay as their favorite characters at the convention. (costume + play)

We watched a sci-fi movie about a cyborg that has human emotions combined with the strength of a robot. (cybernetic + organism)

Portmanteaus are a common part of everyday language, with many originating in domains like marketing, social media, technology, entertainment, or literature.

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What Is a Malapropism? | Examples & Definition

A malapropism is a verbal error that involves replacing the intended word with one that sounds similar (e.g., using “mute point” instead of “moot point”). Malapropisms are a linguistic phenomenon that occurs in everyday speech, but they are also used deliberately as a literary device.

Malapropism examples
Malapropism: They always look for an escape goat to blame.

Intended meaning: They always look for a scapegoat to blame.

Malapropism: When problems arise, it’s best to nip them in the butt.

Intended meaning: When problems arise, it’s best to nip them in the bud.

Malapropism: Our work is done, for all intensive purposes.

Intended meaning: Our work is done, for all intents and purposes.

Writers and performers often use malapropisms to create humor or convey particular character traits or themes. They can serve both stylistic and thematic purposes in a text.

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