Zeugma: a handy figure of speech
Growing up, my brother and I watched a lot of Disney movies. Lion King remains one of my favorites to this day, despite the emotional scars from Mufasa's tragic death. I don't know if it's because the Lion King is essentially Hamlet retold by Lions, or if Timone and Pumbaa just get me, but it's a classic tale that's loved by millions. Why is this relevant? Well, when Scar and his minions sing about being prepared, there's a phrase that tends to stick out near the end. "My teeth and ambitions are bared." That, my friends, is known as a Zeugma. A Zeugma (zoog-muh) is defined as "the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one." It comes from the Greek word zeugnynai, which means "to yolk," and is often used to connect literal and figurative ideas. "My teeth (literal) and ambitions (figurative) are bared." First used around 1580, Zeugma is a noun and can be used as such when writing. However, using its meaning can be much more creative. For example:
"He fell from her favor...and the window."
"She opened her home, and her heart, to the orphan."
"Martha dug in her bag for lipstick and self-confidence."
"During his vacation, Doug caught trout and a cold."
As you can see, using Zeugmas in your writing is a great way to get your idea across. Just be sure that it's as clear as possible. Zeugmas can come across as dangling modifiers if you're not careful.
For more information about Zeugmas, visit Dictionary.com, Your Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and Online Etymology.
The video came from YouTube.