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See also Aprosdoketon


Alternative spellings


Ancient Greek ἀπροσδόκητος (aprosdokētos, unexpected).



aprosdoketon (Anglicized plural: aprosdoketons; classical plural: aprosdoketa)

  1. A figure of speech where an expected word in an idiom is replaced unexpectedly by an unusual one, such as Rome wasn't built in a teacup; also, any surprising use or interpretation of language.


  • 1997, T. Tarkow, 'Theognis 237–254: A Reexamination', in Quaderni urbinati di cultura classica 26, quoted in Roman Constructions, Don Fowler, 2000. [1]
    Is the poet saying "I do not chance on even a slight respect from you" or "I chance on a good amount of respect from you," a meaning which effectively postpones the aprosdoketon to the final line[.]
  • 2000, Gonda A. H. Van Steen, Venom in Verse [2]
    In later restagings of the Thesmophoriazusae, as in the 1959 Frogs, Euripides made his appearance driving a motorcycle. This scenic aprosdoketon was, of course, an ingenous verbal and visual pun on the word mechane and its different meanings in ancient and modern Greek: "stage crane" and "motorbike," respectively.
  • 2001, H. S. Versnel, "The Poetics of the Magical Charm," in Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World, P. Mirecki & M. Meyer edd. [3]
    His famous dictum Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse is an instance of pure rhetoric, deriving its power from its reiteration as a peroration attached to any speech he gave. Now, precisely this fact, the aprosdoketon effect, lends it a certain circumstantial magical quality as well. Being pronounced after every speech on whatever topic, it more often than not was completely out of (logical) order, which is at least one of the characteristics of certain components of the magical charm.


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