Definition of "zeugma" []

  • Syllepsis. (noun)
  • A construction in which one word or phrase is understood to be related to two or more other words or phrases, while being grammatically consistent with only one of them, as with subject-verb agreement in She was upstairs, and her children downstairs. (noun)
  • A figure of speech in which a word is used to modify or govern two or more words although appropriate to only one of them or making a different sense with each, as in the sentence Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave (Charles Dickens) (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. (c) HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 2016

Use "zeugma" in a sentence
  • "This is usually called a zeugma; it's a purely structural way of using prepositions in an odd way, for effect e.g., humor."
  • "Lauterbur submitted a paper to the journal Nature outlining his discovery – which he gave the rather grand name of zeumatography, from the Greek word zeugma, or yoke, to signify the fact that the technique links chemical and spatial information."
  • "The people speak of their land as dying by a kind of zeugma, for the land deteriorates if it be not worked, and here their plea is for seed."