Online College Courses for Credit



Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson introduces zeugma and goes over how it is used in writing.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

37 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

299 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 32 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.



Zeugma (a.k.a. syllepsis)

Zeugma is a figure of speech where one word (usually a verb) applies to, or governs, at least two objects or other words, each in different ways. Remember, objects receive the action of the sentence; they usually answer the questions who or what. 


Let’s look at an example: 

In this example, the verb phrase “could see through” is applied to both the fog and Amanda’s husband, but in different ways. Amanda can physically see through the fog, but she can only figuratively see through her husband (unless he’s a ghost).


The term zeugma comes from the Greek word meaning “to yoke,” which is an appropriate origin for this figure of speech. The governing word yokes or joins together the other words or objects, just as a harness would yoke together two different horses. 



Let’s look at three more examples: 


Remember that the governing word needs to apply to the objects in different ways. That means that the following would Not be an example of zeugma: She likes candy and hopscotch. Although there is only one verb that applies to two objects, it applies to each of them in the same way.