Figure Name zeugma
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Day, A. "The English secretorie",1586; Puttenham, George "The arte of English poesie", 1589; Peacham 1593; Ad Herennium ("disiunctio"; "coniunctio"; "adiunctio"); Isidore ; Sherry (1550) ("zeugma," "iunctio"); Puttenham (1589) ("zeugma," "single supply"); JG Smith (1665) ("zeugma"); Macbeth (1876); De Mille (1882); Holmes (1806) ("zeugma"); Bullinger (1898) ("zeugma: or, unequal yoke"); Johnson (1903) ("zeugma"); Vickers (1989) ("zeugma")
Earliest Source
Synonyms adnexio, iunctio, single supply, junction, unequal yoke
Etymology Gk. "a yoking"; mod.L., a. Gr. {zeta}{epsilon}{gufrown}{gamma}{mu}{alpha} a yoking, f. {zeta}{epsilon}{upsilon}{gamma}{nu}{guacu}{nu}{alpha}{iota} to yoke, related to {zeta}{upsilon}{gamma}{goacu}{nu} YOKE n.1
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. The zeugma suite of figures (prominently including prozeugma, mesozeugma, and hypozeugma in rhetorical figure manuals) is more natural in free-word-order languages, like Greek and Latin, which routinely place the verb in a wide range of locations throughout a sentence--in particular, at the beginning (pro-), middle (meso-) and end (hypo-) in a series of noun phrases. In more rigid-word-order languages the default position of the verb tends to determine the characteristic zeugma; in English, for instance, where verbs generally precede objects, zeugma and prozuegma are largely coextensive. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A joyning together: a figure of construction, whereby one Verb or Adjective, answering the nearer to divers Nominative cases, or Substantives, is reduced to the one expresly, but to the other by a supplement, &c.; ZEVGMA, junctura, a joyning or coupling together: derived from jungo, to joyn or couple. Zeugma is a figure of construction, whereby one Verb or Adjective answering the nearer to divers Nominative cases or Substantives, is reduced to the one expresly, but to the other by a supplement.
Zeugma is made three wayes; viz.In Person, In Gender, In Number.
Zeugma hath three kinds: viz.

(1) Protozeugma. which is when the Verb or Adjective is expressed in the beginning of the clause or sentence; and omitted after.
(2) Mesozeugma, when the common word is put in the middle clause.
(3) Hypozeugma, which is when the Verb or Adjective, or the common word is put in the last clause, or in the end of the clause. (JG Smith)

3. Zeugma, Junction, is a figure not frequently occuring; where the same verb is related to two clauses that stricktly would require two different verbs, as in Homer:
"Thetis leaped down into the sea; but Zeues, to his halls." (Macbeth)

3. This figure occurs when two nouns or two infinitives are united to a verb, which verb is applicable to only one of them; as when Sallust describes a ruler as -
"Waging peace and war." (Macbeth)

3. Under this figure may be ranged, too, the employment of a noun, or any other word with two reference, as in the expression:
"A country crowded with rebels and with anarchy." (Macbeth)

4. 209. ZEUGMA.
Zeugma is a figure in which, by the omission of one word, another is joined to words with which it has properly no connection:
"They were a dress like that on the Scythians, but a language peculiar to themselves."
By the omission of the word "speak," the word "wear" is here used in connection with "language." (De Mille)

5. Zeugma repeats the verb as often o'er, As construing words comes after or before. (Holmes)

6. One verb is yoked on to two subjects while grammatically it strictly refers to only one of them: The two subjects properly require two different verbs... The second verb omitted, and the grammatical law is broken, in order that our attention may be attracted to the passage, and that we may discover that the emphasis is to be placed on the verb that is used, and not to be distracted from it by the verb that is omitted... There are four forms of Zeugma:
1. PROTOZEUGMA, ante-yoke. Latin, INJUNCTUM, joined together.
2. MESOZEUGMA, middle-yoke, Latin, CONJUNCTUM, joined with.
3. HYPOZEUGMA, end-yoke; or subjoined.
4. SYNEZEUGMENON, connected-yoke. Latin, ADJUNCTUM, joined together. (Bullinger, 144)

7. Zeugma.—This is defined as a figure in which an adjective or a verb is made to -belong to two substantives, though it is properly connected with but one of them. And there are two kinds—grammatical and logical... Zeugma is rather a fault than a figure, and it rarely occurs in good writing. But it must be included in the poet's license. (Johnson, 308)

8. Zeugma (or adjunctio), where one verb serves two or more clauses. (Vickers 498)


1. As Virgil guided Dante through Inferno, the Sibyl Aeneas Avernus. —Roger D. Scott-(Silva Rhetoricae)

[Through zeugma, "guided" and "through" are inferred for Sibyl and Aeneas: "As Virgil guided Dante through Inferno, the Sibyl [guided] Aeneas [through] Avernus."]

2. Protozeugma: For neither art thou he Cataline, (Note in marg: Cicero against Cataline.) whom at any time shame could call back from dishonesty, either fear from perill, or reason from madness. (JG Smith)

2. Mesozeugma: What a shame is this, that neither hope of reward, nor fear of reproach could any thing move him, neither the perswasion of his friends, nor the love of his country! (JG Smith)

2. Hypozeugma: The foundation of freedom, the fountain of equity, the safeguard of wealth, and custody of life is preserved by laws. (JG Smith)

5. Nor leaf nor reed is stirred by the wind, i.e. nor leaf is stirred, nor reed is stirred, by the wind. (Holmes)

6. Protozeugma: "And Adah bare Jabel: he was the father of such as dwell in tents and cattle." (Gen. 4:20) "dwell" is placed before "tents" and "cattle," with both of which it is yoked, though it is accurately appropriate only to "tents" and not to "cattle." (Bullinger, 145)

6. Mesozeugma: "Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26) Here in the Greek the adjective is put between the two nouns thus: "Power, great, and glory," and it applies to both in a peculiar manner. This Zeugma calls our attention to the fact that the power will be great and the glory will be great: and this more effectually emphasizes the greatness of both, than if it had been stated in so many words. (Bullinger, 147)

6. Hypozeugma: "They were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy had and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27, 28). Here the verb "determined" relates only to "counsel" and "hand": and shows us that we are to place the emphasis on the fact that, though the power of God's hand was felt sooner than His counsel... yet even this was only in consequence of His own determinate counsel and foreknowledge. (Bullinger, 148)

6. Synezeugma: "And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking." (Ex. 20:18) How tame this would be if the proper verbs thad been expressed in each case! The verb "saw" is appropriate to the "lightnings" and "mountain." And by the omission of the second verb "heard" we are informed that the people were impressed by what they saw, rather than by what they heard. (Bullinger, 148)

7. An example of the grammatical is furnished by this sentence: "I do not know whether it is his form or his clothes that produce that singular effect." Here the verb "produce" agrees with "clothes" but not with "form." An example of the logical may be seen in this sentence: "Both the music and the pictures showed to advantage in the great hall."
One of our new poets writes:

Larks sing, and roses Btill are odorous,
Art, Poetry, and Music still for us,
And Woman just as fair and marvelous. (Johnson, 308)

8. Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.
--Shakespeare, "Sonnet 128" (Vickers 498)

Kind Of Series
Part Of
Related Figures syllepsis, ellipsis, parallelism, prozeugma, hypozeugma, epizeugma, mesozeugma, synzeugma, diazeugma, hypozeuxis, figures of syntax
Notes Zeugma is sometimes used simply as a synonym for syllepsis, though that term is better understood as a more specific kind of zeugma: when there is disparity in the way that the parallel members relate to the governing word (as a vice or for comic effect). Zeugma comprises several more specialized terms, all of which employ ellipsis and parallelism (among the governed members of the sentence). The zeugma figures are of two types: those in which the governing word is the main verb (in which case these are subsequently categorized according to the position of that governing verb), and those in which the governing word is another part of speech (usually the subject noun). (Silva Rhetoricae)
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes added synonyms and type of (series) added original sources as per OED
Reviewed No