December 15, 2004 3:33 PM   Subscribe

What's the name for the type of sentence construction where you use one verb for two of its meanings at once? i.e., the word "fell" in the sentence "He fell down the stairs and in love." I know there is a precise technical term for this type of sentence, I've just forgotten what it is. Thanks!
posted by Aaorn to Writing & Language (11 answers total)
This could help, the most comprehensive source I've found on everything about the written language:
posted by omidius at 3:41 PM on December 15, 2004

Neil Gaiman blogged about it a few months ago. I think the term is zeugma, but I'm looking it up now.

Ah, yes.
posted by tracicle at 3:44 PM on December 15, 2004

According to rhetoric link, when used for vice or comic effect it is often known as syllepsis as well.
posted by omidius at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2004

What tracicle said. Zeugma, pronounced "zugmah."
posted by ludwig_van at 4:09 PM on December 15, 2004

By the way...
posted by ludwig_van at 4:10 PM on December 15, 2004

See also syllepsis.
posted by weston at 5:49 PM on December 15, 2004

The Flanders and Swann song "Have Some Madeira M'Dear" is a treasure trove of this figure.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:09 PM on December 15, 2004

omidius That is a great link. Thanks.
posted by arse_hat at 7:02 PM on December 15, 2004

weston - interestingly enough it was word of the day at m-w a few days ago.
posted by iamck at 8:11 PM on December 15, 2004

Is that like, "I saw the moon walking home last night?"

I was going to write a book filled with nothing but these.

Then I realized it would be near-impossible, so I shortened it to a poem.

It sucks.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:40 PM on December 15, 2004

This canto is full of classic examples of Pope's masterful use of the heroic couplet. In introducing Hampton Court Palace, he describes it as the place where Queen Anne "dost sometimes counsel take--and sometimes tea." This line employs a zeugma, a rhetorical device in which a word or phrase modifies two other words or phrases in a parallel construction, but modifies each in a different way or according to a different sense
posted by kenko at 9:07 PM on December 15, 2004

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