(105 words)
  • Editors

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

A figure of speech, the origin of which is the Greek zeugnunai [to yoke together], in which a word is “put in harness” with two or more other words such that its values are transferred apparently inappropriately but with illuminating or comic effect. One famous example is when Charles Dickens says Mr Pickwick “took his hat and leave”. Another famous example is when Alexander Pope in The Rape of the Lock has Belinda's dressing table arrayed with “Puffs, powders, patches, bibles, billet-doux”, the Bible evidently being reduced to a mere vain ornament by the company it keeps. Zeugma is often used in bathos (q.v.).

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Editors. "Zeugma". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1200, accessed 26 May 2015.]