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A play on words in which a part of speech, such as a verb or adjective, is applied in multiple ways to two or more nouns. A zeugma is often used to enhance other literay devices or to emphasize a particular point. In The Odyssey, Achilles uses a zeugma to "parallel between war and waves: 'cleaving his way through troublesome waves as well as battles with men'" (Fenno 481). Zeugmas are often inteded to be clever and humorous. Their usage is relatively uncommon in English literature in comparison to the metaphor or personification, although some writers, such as Lewis Carroll, tend to favor their use (Ollier 46). The zeugma is similar to the Syllepsis.


  • "The cold corpse and shame are stinking" (Tynianov 576).
  • "Dost sometimes Counsel take--and sometimes Tea" (Hunter 122).
  • "You held your breath and the door for me" (Zeugma - Wikipedia).
  • "...and covered themselves with dust and glory" (Reference.com).

Works Cited

  • Fenno, Jonathan Brian. "'A Great Wave against the Stream': Water Imagery in Iliadic Battle Scenes." American Journal of Philology Vol. 126 no. 4 (Winter 2005): 481.
  • Hunter, J. Paul. "Formalism and History: Binarism and the Anglophone Couplet." MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly Vol. 61 no. 1 (March 2000): 122.
  • Ollier, Nicole. "Nanos Valaoritis: The Cultural Cross-Breeding of a Cosmopolitan and Protean Writer." Journal of Modern Greek Studies Vol. 15 no. 1 (May 1997): 46.
  • Tynianov, IUrii Nikolaevich. "The Ode as an Oratorical Genre." New Literary History Vol. 34 no. 3 (Summer 2003): 576.