To help visualize, I would like to present a situation from the comedy series Friends. In the second episode of the second season, Monica goes shopping with Julie, and when Rachel finds out, she becomes upset because she is jealous of Julie. The following conversation takes place between Monica and Rachel:

Monica: Look, when it started I was just trying to be nice to her because she was my brother's girlfriend. And then, one thing led to another and, before I knew it, we were...shopping.

Rachel: Oh. Oh my God.

Monica: Honey, wait. We only did it once. It didn't mean anything to me.

Rachel: Yeah, right. Sure!

Monica: Really, Rachel, I was thinking of you the whole time. Look, I'm sorry, all right. I never meant for you to find out!

Rachel: Oh, please, you wanted to get caught. (Waves the receipt)

Monica: That is not true!

Rachel: Oh, so you just sort of happened to leave it in here?

Monica: Did it ever occur to you that I might just be that stupid?

Rachel: Ok, Monica. I just have to know one thing. Did you go with her to Bloomingdale's? (Monica looks away.) Oh! Ok, ok, ok, I just really, uh, I just really need to not be with you right now.

The conversation plays out as though it were a couple arguing, referencing all the stereotypical reactions people who have been cheated on tend to have when they find out.

Is there a term for this kind of ‘transposition’ of words, behaviours or circumstances from the situations they’re normally associated with into other situations they’re not associated with?

  • A humorous reversal?
    – GGx
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 10:44
  • It strikes me as ironic (i.e., an example of irony ), but that’s a pretty broad concept, and I sense that you’re looking for something more focused than that. Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 15:45
  • Homoerotic subtext is the trope.
    – ermanen
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 21:50
  • @Scott Yeah. But it looks like it is unlikely that i will find something close.
    – vickyace
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 14:29
  • I don't think any answers are specific enough. I don't have one, but "inappriopriateness" has been a part of comedy for centuries. Also "take something out of context". Neither means explicitly what you're asking. Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 17:50

3 Answers 3


The traditional definition of parody in non-musical contexts suggests that its object should be a well-known, lofty work of art which is then debased for comic effect. The Greek original, parodia, designated a humorous work written in an epic/heroic style but treating subjects which were anything but. There, the accent fell less on a work within a cultural canon as much as a genre/style of poetry, the comic effect arising from the clash of style and content.

More modern definitions have lessened the importance of the move from profound to trivial, preferring to treat parody in terms of allusion, intertextuality, and recontextualization. James Joyce's Ulysses and the film Brother, Where Art Thou?, for instance, can be considered in some important aspects parodies of the Odyssey, but only the film retains any notion of the lofty as vehicle for less than lofty characters and action.

Adapting E.H. Gombrich's insight that art imitates life far less than it does other art, the object of the parody in this Friends episode, especially by parading its clichés for comic effect in a new context, is a genre of dialogue painfully familiar to the audience: the "caught in infidelity" scene of countless soap operas and films.

There is also an element of satire, exaggerating the importance a certain class of American woman ascribes to shopping.


Idea transposition

Transpose (trænspoʊz ) Word forms: 3rd person singular present tense transposes, present participle transposing, past tense, past participle transposed

  1. verb If you transpose something from one place or situation to another, you move it there. The director transposes the action from 16th Century France to post-Civil War America or a ....a transposition of 'Macbeth' to third century BC China.
  2. verb If you transpose two things, you reverse them or put them in each other's place. ...a short story in which he transposes the roles of poets and screenwriters. [VERB noun] Synonyms: interchange, switch, swap, reorder More Synonyms of transpose
  3. verb If you transpose a piece of music, you perform it or write it in a musical key which is different from the original one. [technical] She could play any piece of music she heard and transpose it into any key. [VERB noun into noun]



Hyperbole. They are essentially exaggerating the sense of "betrayal" by equating it to cheating on a partner for comedic purposes.

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