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Blegging for Zeugmas:

I'm giving a talk Monday where the topic of zeugma avoidance is going to come up. I'd like to give a familiar quote -- preferably from a famous song, play, novel, or movie -- that contains a zeugma, which is to say "The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words when it is ... appropriate to each but in a different way, as in to wage war and peace or On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold."

As you might gather from my question, custom-made examples such as the ones in this quote don't satisfy me; I want something that's already relatively well-known. The only such example I could find in a quick Google search was "You held your breath and the door for me" from Alanis Morissette's Head Over Feet, but I'm looking for something even better known (or at least even cooler). So if you could pass some along, I'd be much obliged. Thanks!

gwinje:
From Pink Floyd's "The Thin Ice" from The Wall.

If you should go skating
On the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
Of a million tear-stained eyes
Don't be surprised when a crack in the ice
Appears under your feet.
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice.

I'm not sure if that quite fits, but if it does, it's way cooler than Alanis Morissette.
11.8.2008 5:46pm
Guest 2L:
Tom Waits, The One that Got Away

"Well I've lost my equilibrium and my car keys and my pride..."
11.8.2008 5:54pm
jfalk:
How about Mark Twain's: Famiiarity breeds contempt and chidren.
11.8.2008 5:55pm
Allan (mail):
Tom Lehrer's song, "Have Some Madeira, My Dear":

"And he said, as he hastened to put out the lights, the wine, his cigar and the cat:"
11.8.2008 5:55pm
Angus Lander (mail):
Scalia lampooned one in DC v. Heller:


In any event, the meaning of "bear arms" that petitioners
and JUSTICE STEVENS propose is not even the (sometimes)
idiomatic meaning. Rather, they manufacture a hybrid definition, whereby "bear arms" connotes the actual carrying of arms (and therefore is not really anidiom) but only in the service of an organized militia. No dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we havebeen apprised of no source that indicates that it carriedthat meaning at the time of the founding. But it is easyto see why petitioners and the dissent are driven to the hybrid definition. Giving "bear Arms" its idiomatic meaning
would cause the protected right to consist of the rightto be a soldier or to wage war—an absurdity that no commentator has ever endorsed. See L. Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights 135 (1999). Worse still, the phrase"keep and bear Arms" would be incoherent. The word "Arms" would have two different meanings at once:"weapons" (as the object of "keep") and (as the object of"bear") one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying
"He filled and kicked the bucket" to mean "He filled the bucket and died." Grotesque.
11.8.2008 5:56pm
Angus Lander (mail):
Hmm,

It looks like that's the point of the talk. Never mind.
11.8.2008 5:57pm
gcruse42 (mail) (www):
I decided I needed a new car, so I drove into San Bernardino and debt.

Me, 1985.
11.8.2008 5:59pm
Van (mail):
I'm quite certain this doesn't count as "cooler" but Alexander Pope's great mock-heroic poem "The Rape of the Lock" contains numerous examples of zeugma. Some examples:

Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes Counsel take - and sometimes Tea.
-Canto III Lines 7-8

Whether the Nymph shall break Diana' law,
Or some frail China jar receive a Flaw,
Or stain her Honour, or her new Brocade,
Forget her Pray'rs, or miss a Masquerade,
Or lose her Heart, or Necklace, at a Ball;
Or whether Heav'n has doom'd that Shock must fall
-Canto II Lines 105-110
11.8.2008 6:03pm
grackle (mail):
It looks like you are looking for a famous example of syllepsis, which is what you define, a rather more specialized form of zeugma. Of a number of examples under the broad heading of zeugma in Wikipedia, I like Oscar Wilde's "Oh, flowers are as common here, Miss Fairfax, as people are in London."
11.8.2008 6:04pm
wm13:
I think Van's example, about taking sometimes counsel and sometimes tea, is probably the most famous one in English literature. Certainly it was the first one to my mind.

"Have some madeira, m'dear" is by Flanders and Swann, not Tom Lehrer, who were, as I think about it, more or less contemporaries, but had different audiences: Flanders and Swann being listened by the parents of those who listened to Tom Lehrer.
11.8.2008 6:16pm
Lior:
Allan: the song you quote is funny, but not by Tom Lehrer. This kind of pun is not in his usual style. The best Lehrer quote I can find is from the Irish Ballad:

Not only did she do them wrong,
She did every one of them in.
11.8.2008 6:20pm
Milhouse (www):
Alan, Madeira, m'dear is not by Tom Lehrer, it's by Flanders and Swann. It has several excellent examples of zeugma.

Bob Kanefsky's The Girl Who'd Never Been..., which parodies both Madeira M'dear and Michelle Dockerty's The Girl That's Never Been, has the zeugma "Just a dissipated creep who wears a Rolex on his wrist, on her nerves, too much cologne, and down her power to resist."
11.8.2008 6:27pm
Asher (mail):
Rap is full of zeugma. I'll see if I can come up with a good one.
11.8.2008 6:29pm
gwinje:
From The Onion:

"Area Man Has Asshole, Old Navy Written All Over Him."
11.8.2008 6:31pm
Rock Chocklett:
Is "Make love, not war" a zeugma?
11.8.2008 6:34pm
Milhouse (www):
Wikipedia offers this example, by Warren Zevon: "I got a part-time job at my father's carpet store, laying tackless stripping and housewives by the score."
11.8.2008 6:34pm
jccamp (mail):
Does this work? A line from the 1944 movie "Laura"..."I can afford a blemish on my character, but not on my clothes." (Vincent Price, amazingly enough, not a female lead)
11.8.2008 6:34pm
gwinje:
Asher:

Doesn't quite fit, but I've always liked OutKast's "I takes no shit like, um, stopped up comodes".
11.8.2008 6:35pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
Dorothy Parker:

"All I'm looking for is a place to lay my hat and a few friends."
11.8.2008 6:37pm
Rock Chocklett:
Would it be different if the saying were "Make love and war"?
11.8.2008 6:37pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
"And she feeds me love and tenderness and macaroons"

- The Stampeders, Sweet City Woman
11.8.2008 6:39pm
cbunix23:

I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.
11.8.2008 7:01pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
It took me a couple of hours, but I finally got it:

"She blew my nose and then she blew my mind."

"Honky Tonk Woman," The Rolling Stones

That's gotta be BOTH "even better known" and "even cooler"

What do I win? ;-)
11.8.2008 7:07pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
I suggest The Onion's classic Clinton headline:

"New President Feels Nation's Pain, Breasts."

I have a feeling that this sort of turn is all over the place in classic song lyrics; someone should ask Mark Steyn, who'd probably come up with half a dozen examples out of Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter in a minute. Unfortunately I can't remember any. The only one that leaps to mind is from a song attacking grocers written by a character in Chesterton's The Flying Inn, which ends:

The Grocer trembles; for his time
Just like his weight is short.

[For those who don't understand the reference, it's to a grocer with crooked scales, who might give you six ounces of something while charging you for seven.]

And this isn't quite a zeugma, but the principle's the same, and I've always liked it. It's Florence King, attacking Shere Hite and her surveys of female attitudes towards men, with a bunch of multiple-choice questions:

----------

3. Check the word that best completes the sentence: "The worst thing about men is their im—"

(a) potence
(b) modesty
(c) placability
(d) pertinence
(e) perviousness
(f) petigo

-------

There's a bunch like that, all involving several words with prefixes and one without (unkind, unavailable, unconcerned, unstable, uncouth, unctuous; presumptuous, pretentious, prevaricating, preoccupied, preposterous, preppy; &c.)
11.8.2008 7:09pm
Asher (mail):
Asher:

Doesn't quite fit, but I've always liked OutKast's "I takes no shit like, um, stopped up comodes".


Yeah... see most rap zeugma isn't really zeugma, it's zeugma-like-similes. For instance, Xzibit once said that he "beat the odds like Ike [Turner] beat on his first wife." But I'll find a good example.
11.8.2008 7:10pm
gwinje:
The Onion's Libra horoscpe for the wee of 03/31/04:

You've always believed that the children are our future, which is true insofar as most are cruel, violent, and short.
11.8.2008 7:13pm
gwinje:
Asher:

Godspeed. I have to abandon the quest. Gotta go eat BBQ (and crow if Cal loses).

Go Hawkeyes, by the way.
11.8.2008 7:17pm
Oren:
If we are going to mine The Onion, I prefer "Man waxes car, eloquent".
11.8.2008 8:03pm
Latinist:
Allan already mentioned "have some madeira, m'dear", and was corrected about the source, but he didn't give (in my opinion) its best zeugma:

"When he asked 'what in heaven?' she made no reply, up her mind, and a dash for the door."
11.8.2008 8:14pm
ice9 (mail):
Suggest you delay talk until you understand zeugma.

The example you give is a humorous mis-yoking, (the greek for zeugma is based on 'yoking.' Here's one definition, from VirtualSalt.com: a grammatically correct linkage (or yoking together) of two or more parts of speech by another part of speech.) Your example is a prozeugma intentionally tweaked at the end (syllepsis, sure, but most accurately a paraprosdokian, a phrase that has ends in a word that requires reconsideration of one of the previous words). So it's a zeugma, just like it's a phrase or a clause, but it's not exactly representative of all zeugmas. To focus on that construction alone would be, well, maybe funny but not, well, right.
There's no need to avoid zeugma, when used well; in fact, it's just an efficient form of parallel construction. The example you gave above, and what I read of the offerings from the comments, are more properly paraprosdokians.

ice
11.8.2008 8:21pm
Hoosier:
ice9 has me confused.

But here goes nothing:

Groucho Marx--"You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff."[This one is safely a zeugma, but not his funniest.]

Same source: "Time flies like and arrow; fruit flies like a banana." [Is it a zeugma if the word shared by both sentences is a verb in one and a noun in the other? Is that syllepsis?]

That's one of my all-time favorites to employ when I want to confuse my sons and their friends. Go ahead, try it on a eight or nine year old.

I use Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried in my Vietnam War course. I know he uses zeugmas in the title story, when he makes use of the various meanings of "carry." The book's at my office, so I don't have an exact quote. But let me know if it would be useful. Here's one, as best my memory can reconstruct it:

Kiowa carried a hatchet, his Bible, and a distrust of the white man.
11.8.2008 8:37pm
Hoosier:
Ugh--Time flies like an arrow
11.8.2008 8:39pm
Johnathan Reale (mail) (www):
How about this? "Why don't you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?" Would that be a zeugma by virtue of parallelism?
11.8.2008 8:55pm
Mike Hansberry:


My favorite:

Free Speech and Beer. (I can't recall the source)


But I think you are missing the point, "arms" is the object of both "keep" and "bear" , so it is a different animal than your example.


Having fled into the wastelands, the disgraced grammarian was forced to catch and eat crow.
11.8.2008 8:58pm
fountainpop (mail):
I love everything that's old; friends, time, books and wine.
Oliver Goldsmith
11.8.2008 9:06pm
Jimmy S.:
This is, I presume, prep for the Leary Lecture you'll be giving at the U of U?
11.8.2008 9:51pm
zach:
My personal favorite from Latin class:

Elmo was shrouded in mystery and a towel.
11.8.2008 10:07pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
Two more zeugmata:

John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich: "Egad sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox."
John Wilkes: "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

-------

"Our wistful little star was far too high
A teardrop kissed your lips, and so did I"

- Paul Francis Webster, "The Shadow of Your Smile" (music by Johnny Mandel)
11.8.2008 10:10pm
Fedya (www):
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this one yet:

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. --Benjamin Franklin
11.8.2008 10:33pm
gdfdhf:
Blogs are great for crowd-sourcing like that.
11.8.2008 10:48pm
ff (mail):
Take my wife - please!
11.8.2008 11:10pm
Hoosier:
zach:
My personal favorite from Latin class:

Elmo was shrouded in mystery and a towel.


Mine: Semper ubi sub ubi.
11.8.2008 11:11pm
ghh (mail):
The movie The 10 Comandments was riddled with these.
-You hold your tongue almost as well as I hold my temper.
-The city he builds will bear my name, the woman he loves will bear my son.
-What you have buried in the Nile will remain buried in your heart
-It's a wicked lie spun by Ramses. (Moses holds up a piece of cloth) Mother, did Ramses spin this?
11.8.2008 11:21pm
Swift (mail):
Maybe? --
"[A]ll you're supposed to do is every once in a while give the boys a little tea and sympathy." (Robert Anderson)

But "tea and sympathy" seems collectively to have taken on its own identity.
11.8.2008 11:28pm
Anon.:
For a near miss, how about the opening to the Barenaked Ladies song "The Old Apartment":

Broke into the old apartment
This is where we used to live
Broken glass, broke and hungry
Broken hearts and broken bones
11.8.2008 11:56pm
Sambal:
If your audience is sufficiently youthful (or has children of the right age) your best bet may be this one from "The Lion King":


My teeth and ambitions are bared; be prepared! - Scar, from The Lion King with lyrics by Tim Rice


via Wikipedia.

I think you will have trouble finding non-joking zeugmas where half of the phrase is idiomatic. Perhaps "the right to bear arms and children" (no popular/recognizable source, sadly.)
11.9.2008 12:16am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I think there are a lot of zeugmata in country music, though I can only think of two at the moment. Does it help that both are in the same song by Johnny Paycheck? The title is "I'm the only Hell my mama ever raised" and the narrator also sings of his arrest for robbing a liquor store "They took my belt and my billfold, my fingerprints, and the profile of my face". Complete lyrics and downloadable ringtone here.
11.9.2008 12:20am
Sambal:
More from other blogs:


A 17-year-old gets arrested and a $1,000 bond for failing to show at a court appearance for…a seatbelt violation.


Uses "get" as an auxiliary verb and then in the simple sense of "receive". Quoted on Literal-Minded

An older Language Log post talks about "WTF coordinations" which is perhaps more what you're after; Scalia's argument is effectively that the minority's interpretation of "keep and bear arms" creates a WTF coordination, which can be taken as evidence against that interpretation. One Language Log example is:


If you have an older Mac and upgraded the processor, don't expect it to work or support from Apple.
11.9.2008 12:26am
gwinje:
"Get out of my dreams and into my car", maybe?
11.9.2008 1:15am
gwinje:
11.9.2008 1:25am
Mike Hansberry:
A Thankgiving Tale

It was the dinner rush at the Hungry Pilgrim, but the chef just had to speak to his broker. With cell phone in hand, he sped for the walk-in cooler, because that's the best place to keep and talk turkey.
11.9.2008 1:26am
Sam Nesvoy (mail):
From Kris Kistofferson's "The Pilgirm":

But if this world keeps right on turnin'
for the better or the worse,
And all he gets is older and around,
from the rockin' of the cradle
To the rollin' of the hearse,
The goin' up was worth the comin' down.
11.9.2008 2:03am
tomkow (mail) (www):
From J.L.Austin, "She came home in a flood of tears and a sedan chair".
11.9.2008 2:31am
Arkady:

From J.L.Austin, "She came home in a flood of tears and a sedan chair".


Ah, that was Gilbert Ryle, Concept of Mind.
11.9.2008 7:42am
Arkady:

The actual zeugma is:


She came home in a sedan chair and a flood of tears.
11.9.2008 7:55am
Arkady:
Here's one I found that will no doubt be of interest to many readers of this blog:


"You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit."

(Star Trek: The Next Generation)
11.9.2008 8:11am
Hoosier:
Arkady:


From J.L.Austin, "She came home in a flood of tears and a sedan chair".

Ah, that was Gilbert Ryle, Concept of Mind.


Both wrong. It was actually from Frege's Deep Thoughts after Mixing Port and Sherry.

(Teife Gedanken nach dem Zusammentrinken von Portwein und Sherry)
11.9.2008 8:21am
oledrunk3 (mail):
I still miss you, but my aim is getting better.
11.9.2008 8:42am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Isn't the point that one should expect a legal document to contain a zeugma. If you find a good enough one then won't that tend to support the idea that 2nd amendment might just be an example of one?

Why not just point out that if bear and bare were not just homophones but also had the same spelling then "to keep and bear arms" wouldn't mean to possess weapons and roll up one's sleeves.
11.9.2008 9:10am
Jim Cinadr:
How do you keep a fish from smelling?

Cot off his nose.
11.9.2008 9:29am
Mike Hansberry:
I could not find a phrasing that closely parallels what is claimed by the dissent regarding the Second Amendment, so I made one to illustrate the absurdity of the claim.


A Thanksgiving Tale
It was the dinner rush at the Hungry Pilgrim, but the chef just had to speak to his broker. With cell phone in hand, he sped for the walk-in cooler, because that's the best place to keep and talk turkey.


Note that "the place to keep and talk turkey" parallels "the right to keep and bear arms" in that both are noun phrases, and both include an idiom (one real, the other supposed), and both sentences are non-sensical if read as idioms.

But they are different in this respect, the Thanksgiving Tale can not be read any other way because "talk turkey" is a true idiom -that combination of words fit the definition of idiom in that "talk turkey" just doesn't make sense if read literally.

If one were to read the Second Amendment as the dissent urges, it also would be non-sensical. However we have a choice the Second Amendment.
11.9.2008 9:32am
Fedya (www):
gwinje:

The line "Get out of my dreams, get into my car" is taken from Ringo Starr's You're Sixteen:

You walked out of my dreams,
And into my car
Now you're my angel divine
You're sixteen
You're beautiful
And you're mine.
11.9.2008 9:50am
Will Schendel (mail):
If I said you had a beautiful body,
Would you hold it against me?

The Bellamy Brothers, from a song by the same name.
11.9.2008 9:59am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Isn't the point that one should expect a legal document to contain a zeugma. If you find a good enough one then won't that tend to support the idea that 2nd amendment might just be an example of one?



It strikes me (**THWACK!!!** OUCH!!!!) that they are a method, possibly that falls naturally to hand, of compacting information into minimum coherent structure.
11.9.2008 11:21am
Hoosier:
feyda

I always thought it was "into my life".

Oops.

Super-Duper Precedent Bonus Points for the VCer who can come up with a zeugma based on the word 'zeugma.'

Jim Cinadr

You reminded me of the Monty Python Kiler Joke skit;

Hitler: "My dog has no nose."
Hitler Youth: "But how does smell, Mein Fu:hrer?"
H: "Awful!"
11.9.2008 12:07pm
Sagar:
She stole my heart and my wallet.
11.9.2008 12:12pm
Sagar:
the farmer's wife grew vegetables and bored.
11.9.2008 12:14pm
Sagar:
Arms are for hugging; not fighting.
11.9.2008 12:19pm
neurodoc:
Arms are for hugging; not fighting. Ugh! When I see that on bumper stickers, I immediately form a mental image of the vehicle's owner, and it is not a flattering one. Don't thing I have ever seen that plastered on the rear of a Jaguar, Porsche, BMW, or Lexus, though it won't be incompatible with a Volvo or Saab.

Question: how does one pronounce "zeugma"? (Was that and the etymologic origin of the word in Eugene's previous post? I'll go look, and maybe even crack a dictionary.) And how come I never heard of it before? Was my education so deficient (we covered synecdoche, litotes, and those more common figures of speech in 12th grade English)? Or, is this kind of esoteric stuff, with people creating zeugmas without knowing it is they are up to?
11.9.2008 12:46pm
Mike Hansberry:
The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words when it is ... appropriate to each but in a different way, as in to wage war and peace or On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold."


The question begged:
Which word in the Second Amendemnt is governing "two or more words when it is ... appropriate to each but in a different way"?


The Miller Court had no difficulty equating keep and bear arms with possession or use of certain instruments.


In the absence of any evidence tending to show that
possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of
less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has
some reasonable relationship to the preservation or
efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say
that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to
keep and bear such an instrument.




Note that "such an instrument" relates back to "arms" of the Second Amendment, and it is clear that the Miller court understood the words "keep" and "bear" to refer to the same thing, in the same way.

Note that "bear such an instrument" is plainly not an idiom.
11.9.2008 1:09pm
Wexford:
The motto of the new music club in the Village: "Serving Art and Alcohol."
11.9.2008 1:39pm
ReaderY:
Oscar Wilde offered boasted he could make a five-minute extemporaneous speech on any subject whatsover. Someone asked him to talk about the queen. The answer?

"The Queen, sir, is not a subject."
11.9.2008 2:10pm
Gary Curtis:
Here's one that I just came across in Geoffrey Nunberg's book Going Nucular, p. 19:


It seems unfair to use the same label for Ted Williams and Leo Sayer--after all, the one had 2,654 career hits, and the other only had about two.


In case you don't know, Williams was a baseball player and Sayer a pop singer.

By the way, Ringo's song "You're Sixteen" is a cover of a song from the '50s or early '60s.
11.9.2008 2:18pm
Allan (mail):
Thanks to all who corrected my conflated recollections of adolescence. (I got the lyrics wrong, too.)
11.9.2008 2:34pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Mike Hansbery's 9:29 made me think of the following:

"He gobbled like a turkey and down his dinner."
11.9.2008 2:39pm
Richard W (mail):
Fedya:

Gwinje is right - the lyrics from Billy Ocean are from Get outta my Dreams, Get into my Car on the "Tear Down these Walls" album. Very similar to Ringo's words which as noted as from an earlier time.

From wikipedia:
"You're Sixteen" is a song written by the Sherman Brothers (Robert B. Sherman &Richard M. Sherman).
The original 1960 version of "You're Sixteen" by Johnny Burnette is featured prominently on the 1973 motion picture soundtrack of American Graffiti.

Same thought, though I like Burnette/Starr version better
11.9.2008 2:52pm
gwinje:
Ringo over Billy Ocean? Come on. That's like taking Anchor Steam over Keystone Light.
11.9.2008 3:17pm
NicholasV (mail):
Free Speech and Beer. (I can't recall the source)

I don't know exactly where it came from but it might be Richard M. Stallman or one of the other founders of the Open Source movement. They needed a way to explain the difference between what they saw as two different meanings to "free software": Free (as in Free Beer) meaning it comes at no cost, and Free (as in Free Speech) meaning the user is free to view the source code, modify it and redistribute it.

This leaves me with the question: is "free software" an auto-zeugma? It can mean one of two things, or both simultaneously, where the word "free" is (potentially) meaning different things but applying to the same object.
11.9.2008 6:47pm
asanders:
From Hamlet, I, iii, 75-76:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
11.9.2008 6:50pm
andy (mail) (www):
From Simpsons:

Ned "This pizza is harder to swallow than evolution."
11.9.2008 7:55pm
Ashby:

"Fish and visitors stink in three days."

Benjamin Franklin
11.9.2008 8:49pm
Hoosier:
Ashby--Isn't that Dr. Johnson?
11.9.2008 9:43pm
Hoosier:
I'll check that quote. Let me just go into my office and pull out my Johnson . . .
11.9.2008 9:44pm
Sagar:
neurodoc,

what's wrong with arms for hugging? :-)

I have not seen that on a bumper sticker; but have read that the kumbaya crowd loved that slogan (especially back in the 1980s protesting against Reagan's policies). So, it is not likely to be on a Lexus - probably VWs
11.9.2008 10:11pm
Mike Hansberry:
I think you might want to reconsider your earlier conclusion.



That there's a zeugma you're talking about, Mr. Justice: "the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words when it is appropriate to only one of them or is appropriate to each but in a different way, as in to wage war and peace or On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold." Why didn't you just say so?



I have not found anything to suggest that "the right to keep and bear arms" would fall within the meaning of Zeugma or related terms, even accepting for sake of argument that "bear arms" is an idiom as used there.




Literary Dictionary: zeugma
zeugma [zewg‐mă], a figure of speech by which one word refers to two others in the same sentence. Literally a 'yoking', zeugma may be achieved by a verb or preposition with two objects, as in the final line of Shakespeare's 128th sonnet:

Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

Or it may employ a verb with two subjects, as in the opening of his 55th sonnet:
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.

However, the term is frequently used as a synonym for syllepsis—a special kind of zeugma in which the yoking term agrees grammatically with only one of the terms to which it is applied, or refers to each in a different sense. In the confusion surrounding these two terms, some rhetoricians have reserved 'zeugma' for the ungrammatical sense of syllepsis.



As in the above definition, most sources describe Zeugma as a verb modifying two or more objects or a verb with two subjects. But I have yet to find an example of a zeugmatic form containing two verb forms relating to one object, and that object takes on two completely different meanings in the same instance.
11.9.2008 11:12pm
Wayne Jarvis:
Favorite Onion Zeugma: "AIDS Awareness Campaign Spreads Awareness, AIDS"
11.10.2008 12:15am
micdeniro (mail):
You can pick your nose and your friends, but you can't pick your friend's nose.
11.10.2008 8:14am
Arkady:
@ Mike Hansberry


an example of a zeugmatic form containing two verb forms relating to one object, and that object takes on two completely different meanings in the same instance.



I'm not sure this works, but do you think it's close?

"I shall see some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness i' th' posture of a whore."
11.10.2008 9:09am
Ashby:
Nope, it's Franklin. But I did get the quote wrong.

Fish and visitors stink after three days.

http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/quotable/singlehtml.htm

Franklin appears to be quite fond of zeugmas. I guess Poor Richards was sort of the Onion of its day. ;-)
11.10.2008 9:37am
James Taranto:
Larry Tribe on Guantanamo: "In reality and symbolically, the idea that we have people in legal black holes is an extremely serious black mark."
11.10.2008 11:48am
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
I emailed a link to this thread to my daughter, who is away at college, and received this sad email in return:

So it's below freezing tonight and we have no hot water. Again. I washed my hair in the sink, which makes tangles and me dizzy.
11.10.2008 12:10pm
David R (mail):
"Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my father assured him that either his brains, or his signature, would be on the contract. That's a true story. That's my family, Kay, it's not me."
11.10.2008 12:58pm
Brooklynx:
It's probably about as well known to the generation that listened to Alanis, but infinitely cooler: Zeugma beat poetry from So I Married an Axe Murderer.

"She was a thief, you got to belief, she stole my heart and my cat."
11.10.2008 12:58pm
meagain (mail):
I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.
11.10.2008 1:12pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Two years after becoming an ordained priest, he married his wife and his sister.
11.10.2008 4:02pm
SJN:
I think from the old song, "Ain't We Got Fun" --

"The rich get richer and the poor get children."
11.10.2008 6:19pm
statfan (mail):
"Because Poe wrote on both", as an answer to Lewis Carroll's question "Why a raven like a writing desk", is zeugmatic, if not precisely a zeugma.
11.10.2008 6:40pm
Rik (mail):
As Dr. Weevil said, there are many zeugmas in country music. Here are a couple:
"She was running low on faith and gasoline," from Jesus Take the Wheel;
"Take your records, take your freedom," from You'll Think of Me;
"Mama lives by the Bible; the Bible lives by the bed," from One Wing in the Fire
11.10.2008 7:15pm