Irony. Pun. Zeugma. Malapropism


I had a very big problems with browsing pictures. Only two pictures had browsed. Exuse for it, I had different examples on pictures. Irony This well-known term going back to the Greek word “eironeia”...

I had a very big problems with browsing pictures. Only two pictures had browsed. Exuse for it, I had different examples on pictures.


This well-known term going back to the Greek word “eironeia” (mockery concealed) denotes a trope based on direct opposition of the meaning to the sense. Irony is a transfer, a renaming based upon the direct contrast of two notions: the notion named and the notion meant.

Irony is a stylistic device also based on the simultaneous realization of two logical meanings – dictionary and contextual, but the two meanings stand in opposition to each other. Irony is generally used to convey a negative meaning. For example:

You are so diminutive that you did better than giraffe. ( It means you're too tall).


On the whole, irony is used with the aim of critical evaluation of the thing spoken about. Sometimes irony is NOT POINTED OUT at all: its presence in the text is deducted only by reasoning.


A pun is a clever and amusing use of a word or phrase with two meanings, or of words with the same sound but different meanings. For example, if someone says “The peasants are revolting”, this is a pun, because it can be interpreted as meaning either that the peasants are fighting against authority, or that they are disgusting.

This term is synonymous with the current expression “play upon words”.  Alongside the Enlish term “pun”, the international term calambur is current. Like any other stylistic device , it must depend on a context.

The semantic essence of the device is based on polysemy or homonymy. The general formula for the pun is as follows “A equals B and C”, which is the result of fallacious transformation (shortening) of the two statements “A equals B” and “A equals C” (three terms in all). For example:

“Have you been seeing spirits?” – “Or taking any?”

The first "spirits" refers to supernatural forces, the second one -to strong drinks.

In fact, the humorous effect is caused by the interplay not of two meanings of one word, but of two words. Puns are often used in riddles and jokes.


Zeugma – is the use of a word in the same grammatical but different semantic relations to two adjacent words in the context semantic being on the one hand, literal, and on the other, transferred.




direct                        indirect

As a general rule, zeugma with its tendency towards the absurd, or at least to illogically, is employed in humorous texts. Zeugma is a kind of economy of syntactical units: one unit (word, phrase) make a combination with two or several others without being repeated itself: “She was married to Mr. Johnson, her twin sister, to Mr. Ward; their half-sister, to Mr. Trench”. Another example: John and his driving licence expired last week.



Malapropism – (from Latin “mal” – “bad, ill” and “proper” – “individual”) – a grotesque misuse of words, a substitution of one word for another based on a blunder. Malapropism creates a funny change of meaning. It can be possible to give another definition: the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with an amusing effect (e.g. “dance a flamingo” instead of flamenco). The unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, especially when creating a ridiculous effect, as in “I am not under the affluence of alcohol”.

Modern malapropisms in english are:

*flaunt and flounce

(to display possessions, oneself. etc) ostentatiously; show off - go or move in an exaggeratedly impatient or angry manner)

*cortege and corsage

(a formal procession, esp. funeral procession - a spray of flowers worn pinned to a woman's clothes)

*aperient and aperitif

(chiefly of a drug) used to relieve constipation - an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimutate the appetite)


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