Syllepsis


Syllepsis (sil-lep’-sis): When a single word that governs or modifies two or more others must be understood differently with respect to each of those words. A combination of grammatical parallelism and semantic incongruity, often with a witty or comical effect. Not to be confused with zeugma: [a general term describing when one part of speech {most often the main verb, but sometimes a noun} governs two or more other parts of a sentence {often in a series}].

You blew up yourself, your local KFC, and your dream of being a meat-loving martyr.

You have besmirched our cause, betrayed Colonel Sanders, and dashed our hope of obtaining endless complimentary $20 Family Fill Ups and XXL soft drinks.

Dr. Bronner’s army of inveterate vegetarians, vegans, sproutarians and other meat-haters will never be defeated by such acts of gross incompetence.

  • Post your own syllepsis on the “Comments” page!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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