kortina.nyc / notes
22 Dec 2021 | by kortina

Sylleptic: When a Statement is Both Figuratively and Literally True

For a long, long time I have thought there needs to be an label for the special case when a statement is both literally and figuratively true.

I had heard of the following type of syllepsis (aka zeugma):

He took his hat and his leave. (“Took” used both literally and figuratively)


Where a verb applies to two objects but in different senses.

But apparently there is a “Type 4 Syllepsis”:

A special case of semantic syllepsis occurs when a word or phrase is used both in its figurative and literal sense at the same time.

wikipedia citing Bernard Marie Dupriez (1991). A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z. University of Toronto Press. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-8020-6803-3. Retrieved 25 September 2013.

The Wikipedia example:

an advertisement for a transport company: “We go a long way for you.” This type of syllepsis operates in a similar manner to a homonymic pun.

Exactly what I was looking for.

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