non sequitur

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Latin phrase nōn sequitur ‎(it does not follow), from nōn ‎(not) + sequitur (third-person form of sequor ‎(I follow)); in Latin, the phrase sees no use as a noun. Compare sequence, from same root.

Pronunciation[edit]

Examples (logical fallacy)
  • “All ravens are black; this object is black; therefore, this object is a raven.”

Noun[edit]

Examples (humor)
  • “Take my wife – please.” (Henny Youngman)
  • “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.” (Dorothy Parker)
  • “A fool and his money are soon partying.” (Steven Wright)

non sequitur ‎(plural non sequiturs or non sequuntur)

  1. Any abrupt and inexplicable transition or occurrence.
    Having a costumed superhero abduct the vicar was an utter non sequitur in the novel.
  2. Any invalid argument in which the conclusion cannot be logically deduced from the premises; a logical fallacy.
  3. A statement that does not logically follow a statement that came before it.
  4. (humor) A kind of pun that uses a change of word, subject, or meaning to make a joke of the listener’s expectation.

Usage notes[edit]

The legitimate plural forms of non sequitur include the Anglicised non sequiturs and the Classical non sequuntur; non sequituri is also attested, but is rare, non-standard, and misformed.

In sense “abrupt transition”, contrast with segue ‎(move smoothly from one subject to another), which is etymologically opposite (“does not follow” vs. “follow”). However, segue has connotations of moving between distinct subjects, and thus to segue often means to change rather abruptly, with at best a pretense of smooth transition – in both cases there is often a rapid move between distinct subjects, with the distinction being whether this is done smoothly or not.

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