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Oct 28, 2014
This week's theme
Rhetorical devices

This week's words
antimetabole
zeugma
synecdoche
epanalepsis
hendiadys

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

zeugma

PRONUNCIATION:
(ZOOG-muh)

MEANING:
noun: The use of a word to refer to two or more words, especially in different senses.
Examples: "He caught a fish and a cold" or "She lost her ring and her temper."

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin zeugma, from Greek zeugma (a joining). Ultimately from the Indo-European root yeug- (to join), which is also the ancestor of junction, yoke, yoga, adjust, juxtapose, junta, junto, syzygy, jugular, and rejoinder. Earliest documented use: 1589.

NOTES:
There's a similar term, syllepsis, but the two are more or less synonymous now. You could say zeugma is joined with syllepsis. Or the distinction between zeugma and syllepsis has lapsed now.

USAGE:
"One, Mister Eisenschmutz, gaunt, small, elegant, his head covered with a kepele in embroidered silk, prays with fervor and a French accent (this is a rhetorical zeugma of the sort 'I'm Hungarian and robbed')."
Adam Biro (translator: Catherine Tihanyi); Is It Good for the Jews?; The University of Chicago Press; 2009.

See more usage examples of zeugma in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a heaven that it shows itself cloddish. -Evelyn Waugh, novelist (1903-1966)

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