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    You Shake. I’ll Stir.

    You ought to get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.

    “Every Day’s a Holiday” (1937)

    antanaclasis, the pun. From the Greek, meaning, more or less, boomerang.

    Technically, of course, the martini gets into the drinker. One generally doesn’t get into a martini without a large supply of bathtub gin.

    Bertie Wooster, P.G. Wodehouse’s feckless English gentleman-about-town, often talked about wrapping himself around a drink. As with many good figures, the nonsense helps make it funny. But the liquid essence of the quote consists of some dry humor of its own: the word “dry.” It’s a special kind of pun that uses “wet” as a counterpoint to set it up.

    The antanaclasis is that tricky kind of pun. It plays on a previous word, often through some sort of real or applied repetition; as in, “You ought to get into dry clothes and into a dry martini.”

    Try the technique yourself by screwing up a cliché.  For instance, if your significant is a fashion hound, try something like: “The more clothes you change, the more you remain the same.”

    Then pour a martini.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    This isn't entirely relevant, but I've always wondered where the word "martini" comes from. and how do you stand on the gin vs. other kinds of tinis--e.g., chocotini?
    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSigg
    The martini is one of the most successful feats of unintentional branding in history. Invented by a bartender sometime in the late 19th century, it traditionally uses Martini & Rossi vermouth. And an olive. Or, if you're really silly, an onion. A martini called anything but "martini" and made with anything but gin is not a martini. Figaro considers himself a liberally minded soul, but a vodka martini is cold vodka. And a martini with anything sweet in it except vermouth should be called an atrocity.
    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    What does alcohol have to do with rhetoric.
    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSebago
    Alcohol and rhetoric sustain a 1 to 1 ratio.
    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    As an AP English teacher, I'd like to remind you that your blog has thousands of underage followers. Your references to alcohol--and, occasionally, to sex and profanity--don't serve as good teaching aids. Other than that, great site!
    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara
    Figaro does not believe in drinking before one is old enough to mix a proper martini--a skill that requires a fully developed prefrontal cortex, which men do not generally achieve until age 25. In other words, if you're old enough to rent a car, you're old enough to drink a martini, though not simultaneously.

    Figaro is all for simultaneous martinis and sex, however. In addition, he is pro-profanity on all occasions. His own children were taught the etymology of swear words before they turned 3, and they grew up to equate profanity with etymology, a topic that rarely leads to underage sex or drinking.
    May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    But the website Sylvia Rhetoricae defines antanaclasis as a variation of the antistasis, namely, the repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance. In the example no word is repeated.
    June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonty May
    Indeed, it is closely related; but the antanaclasis doesn't require a stated repetition. It can be merely implied. Richard Lanham uses an ad for a men's clothing store, "Law suits our specialty."
    June 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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