The Zeugma

By: Casey Williams

What is it?

The zeugma [zoog-muh] has multiple definitions and some of them conflict with each other. However, the most common definition would be as follows. The zeugma is a figure of speech in which a word relates to two other words, but either illogically or in a different way. For example, if a book read, "the weeping eyes and hearts," than it would be using a zeugma. In the sentence, "weeping" relates to "eyes" literally as eyes can weep, but relates to "hearts" differently as a heart can only weep in a personification. Using a zeugma in text gives the reader a sense of paradox, as the statement at first seems untrue but relates to the matter at hand and enhances the quality of the writing. A common effect a zeugma has on a reader is initial confusion followed by realization and deeper thought.
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