Z for Zeugma

And….we made it. Today is Z day. It has been fun. Hope you have enjoyed and learned something. I have.

I want to talk about zeugma.

I hadn’t heard of the word till I dictionary hunted for a Z word. It fits beautifully in with my theme of ABCs for writing.

A zeugma is word used to modify two or more words when it really only makes sense for some of them.

Example: You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens as you see fit. This is from Star Trek the Next Generation.

I have seen these at various times and didn’t know there was a name for it. Now I do.

Another one is ‘ she dug for potatoes and praise.’ It kind of makes sense, but I would have said the punctuation was wrong. However, it is a zeugma.

In this final A to Z post let us learn what a zeugma is and how not to use it.

Here is to zeugmaless writing.




4 thoughts on “Z for Zeugma

  1. Sometimes zeugmas are very clever, as in the two examples you provided. I dug a little deeper, and found the first definition is: a figure of speech in which a word applies to two others in different senses (e.g., John and his license expired last week ) The way the zeugma is used in this example makes us do a double take, and then shocks us as the reality sinks in. You are right, though. We need to make sure our word choice and punctuation are making our intended point!


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