In English we have some phrases like:

Make like a banana — and split

Make like a tree — and leave

With these kinds of phrases sometimes the second part is left unsaid; if you say, "make like a banana," the person listening most likely knows the second part (or ending).

Is there an official term for these kind of phrases?

Or are these just "make like a"-jokes?

Are there phrases with the same pattern but aren't "make like a"-jokes?

  • 2
    I think the "official term" might be Paraprosdokian -- other relevant questions
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 20, 2014 at 11:33
  • @AndrewLeach On second thought, I have withdrawn my close vote; this is not a duplicate, and you have provided an admirable answer. Jun 20, 2014 at 12:45
  • @StoneyB It's not really a "traditional" paraprosdokian, though. I'm not entirely sure it counts (hence the comment, not an answer).
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 20, 2014 at 12:59
  • Make sure you know how to pronounce paraprosdokian properly, however, before you use it at a cocktail party. Although the effect will be the same (people will look aghast and drift away rapidly), you won't be subject to correction from anybody who actually knows the word. Jun 20, 2014 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


Paraprosdokian is about as close as you're going to get, I believe. That impossible to remember (not to mention impossible to pronounce) figure of speech has what experts in this sort of thing like to call "a sudden happiness increment," which is at the heart of humor (British, humour). This happiness increment is both surprising and unexpected.

Paraprosdokians can also be used to good effect when they are tinged with sarcasm. Winston Churchill, for example, loved to use paraprosdokians in that way. For example, Churchill is credited with saying, (Supposedly about Clement Attlee): "A modest man, who has much to be modest about."

Paraprosdokians are more clearly rhetorical when they are capable of getting (or are simply an attempt at getting) a listener/reader to reframe or re-interpret the earlier part of the sentence, so that their point of view becomes more closely aligned with that of the speaker or writer. Example:

War doesn't determine who is right, but only who is left.

The above paraprosdokian would be apt when coming from the lips of a pacifist, for example, since there are more than a few "hawks" in the world. It would not likely change a hawk's mind, but it might serve to make him or her feel salty when in the company of people who are less than hawkish.

Following are a few of my favorite paraprosdokians. As you'll be able to tell, paraprosdokians are a comedian's stock in trade, when handled deftly and expertly.

  • Hospitality is making your guests feel as though they are at home, even if you wish they were.

  • Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

  • Some people cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.

  • When I die, I hope it's peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, and not like the screaming passengers in his car.

  • If I saw things from your perspective, then we'd both be wrong.

  • The last thing I want to do is offend you, but it's still on my list.

  • (To a host or hostess): I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it. (Attributed to Groucho Marx.)

  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger, and then it hit me.

  • If you have telekinetic powers, raise my hand.

  • It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. (Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, though it is remarkably similar to the biblical proverb: "Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent" (Proverbs 17:28 NAS).

  • A fool and his money are soon elected.

  • I really miss my ex so often; guess I ought to use a laser sight. (Or, I'm missing my ex-wife, but my aim is improving.)

  • I don't know what your problem is, but I bet it's hard to pronounce.

  • The bad news: my wife's cooking is atrocious. The good news: she serves really small portions.

  • When I was 8, I had the courage to beat up the class bully. He was in a body cast at the time.

  • Always swim or dive with a friend. It reduces your chance of a shark attack by 50 percent.

  • Doing a business deal is like fishing. Sometimes you wish you had a machine gun to speed up the process.

  • I'm reading a book on anti-gravity, and I can't put it down.

  • Professor, what did you bring your copy of Strunk and White that the class does not want to be lectured to out of in for?

  • Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. (Attributed to Albert Einstein.)

  • I asked God for a Bentley, but I knew God doesn't work that way. So I stole a Bentley and asked for His forgiveness.

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