Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for ZEUGMA

The term ZEUGMA is used in several ways, all involving a sort of "yoking":

1) when an object-taking word (a preposition or transitive verb) has two or more objects on different levels, such as concrete and abstract, as in Goldsmith's witty sentence, "I had fancied you were gone down to cultivate matrimony and your estate in the country," where figurative and literal senses of the transitive verb "cultivate" are yoked together by "and."  

2) when two different words that sound exactly alike are yoked together, as in "He bolted the door and his dinner," with "bolted" being used as two different concrete verbs.

Jane Austen was extremely skilled at using these two kinds of ZEUGMA in her work, for subtly humorous effect in dialogue between her characters.

The third definition has to do with grammar--

3) a grammatical irregularity that arises when a conjunction yokes together forms that cannot all be reconciled with other material in the sentence, as in "Either you or he was responsible." The "you" cannot be reconciled with the verb "was." In "one or two years ago," the singular "one" does not match the plural "years," but hardly anyone will try to avoid such a ZEUGMA by going the long way around with "one year or two years ago".

So there you go people, literary terms from A to Z! I hope you all learned something. I enjoyed the refresher course and will remember it better for having posted about the terms. I think this time I might even remember ZEUGMA.

(This post has been inspired by and in some instances, directly quoted from A Handbook to Literature, 8th Edition, by William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman)


  1. Hard to believe it's all over. Great work making it through all 26!

  2. Thank you for sharing your in-depth knowledge of writing and for hosting the A to Z Challenge. I have been so inspired by it and so happy to have come up with some interesting ideas for the letters. But I had the most fun meeting new bloggers, making new friends, finding interesting blogs, and learning a lot about a variety of subjects. Thank you, this was a great experience.--Inger

  3. I have enjoyed your A-Z postings and that's "no yolk".

  4. Another interesting post, as always. Thank you for co-hosting the challenge, I've really enjoyed it, and your posts!

  5. Karen, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!

  6. Congrats on finishing and thanks for all the wonderful posts.

  7. Congrats and thanks for being a co-host to this event. It was a blast and I look forward to it next year.

  8. stuff like this comes to me...I don;t construct it in my writing as such. Happy discoveries, lovingly stitched together; that's how I write.

    Warm Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral



  9. Very interesting new word!

    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

  10. It was such an honor to meet you Karen, I am truly grateful. Thanks to you and the team for orgazing the fest. Its been a great learning curve.

  11. What a great way to end the A-Z challenge!! What a fabulous word - thanks for the info!

    CONGRATULATIONS with finishing the challenge!! Yay!! Take care

  12. Wow! Congrats on a challenge well done. I'll have to go back and check out the others since I've only just found you today.

    Nice to meet you! :)

  13. That's one wacky word that I doubt I'd ever use. Has anybody ever actually used it?

    Anyway, Karen, congratulations on making it to the end of this great Challenge. It has been some wild fun for sure. I appreciate everything you put into it.

    Tossing It Out

  14. well, whaddaya know? I've never even heard of this word!! :D LOL! But I like it, and I know the concept. So maybe I have heard it, and i"m not pronouncing it right in my head? who knows.

    This has been fun, and big congrats for finishing~ :o)

  15. Yeah, you made it all the way to Z! What persistence!

  16. This sounds like a task that would be hard to do. Thanks for the idea though. And thanks for hosting the wonderful A-Z Challenge.


  17. Uhhh, still don't get it. I think I am having a "mentally challenged" day today. Good thing I am not a writer. I don't have to understand, just enjoy.

  18. I have to read this again, the zzz's are getting to me! Very clever! Thanks for hosting the challenge and Congrats on reaching the finish line! phew...

  19. Awesome Z! I've learned much from you blogs throughout the challenge. Thank you.

  20. Good for hanging on til the end and finishing up, Karen. You've "zed the lot" (to quote the new phonetic alphabet).

    In the midst of our "moving experience," I somehow lost the thread.

    Now that we're relocated and starting to get organized, perhaps I'll finish the A-Z process.

    Well, at least I can dream hopefully.