Punch line

Pointe ( v. französ. Pointe top, from spätlat. Puncta stitch) is a name given to a surprising conclusion effect as a style figure in a rhetorical sequence, such as a joke. The comic, even witty effect of Pointe is based on the sudden realization of meaningful relationships between non- matching concepts. Gero von Wilpert describes the Pointe as actual, unexpected sense. In general, the occurrence of Pointe through the rhetorical construction is formally programmed precisely, sometimes predictable.

When Pointe also a surprising turn is called in a dramatic action.


The effect was demonstrated in the history of rhetoric and poetics with different names. Thus, the term " Pointe " was not applied until the end of the 18th century from the French poetry in the German language, where he replaced term name as " sophistry " and " acumen " ( poetic acumen ), wit ( in the old sense of witty remark ) (Müller 2003).

Although formulated rhetorical and poetic Points theories arise only from the end of the 16th century, this may very well be based on ancient sources. The main authorities are Aristotle and Marcus Tullius Cicero. So you can be the one on Aristotle's reflections on the Esprit ( " asteía " ) and metaphor ( Rhetoric III, 10f ) was appointed. On the other hand offers Cicero's book De Oratore, together with a list of possible forms joke even basic consideration to the talent to make jokes ( De Oratore I 0.216-290 ).

During the 16th century, interest in the Pointe increases, since it belongs to the ideal of courtly conversation to speak witty. This ideal applies to the literature, so that the original rhetorical considerations are introduced to the Pointe in the Poetics.

This overpass dedicated to various tracts. The term " point " does not appear in these treatises. The most important terms in Latin treatises are " argutia " and " acumen ", such as Mathias Casimir Sarbiewski ( De acuto et arguto liber unicus 1619 /26) and Jacob Masen ( Ars Nova Argutiarum, 1660). As derivatives thereof, and " acutezza " can be found in Italian " argutezza " Emanuele Tesauro at (1654 Cannocchiale aristotelico, ) Matteo Peregrini ( Delle Acutezze, 1639 ). Baltasar Gracian The Spaniard used, among other things, the word " agudeza " (Arte de Ingenion, tratado de la agudeza, 1642). The theoretical and practical interest for the punch line in the 17th century is sometimes referred to by the term " Argutia Movement". But the terms " conceit " and " conceit " are equally important for the Italian and Spanish Point theories.

All theorists of Pointe measure its object to an almost exaggerated importance. This meaning is nowadays the only way to understand that they - were understood as a product of perception of similarities between different objects ( Hedges 2005) - especially in reference to Aristotle. This brought the Pointe a quasi epistemological status. It is thus an essential basis for the ( literary and rhetorical ) invention ( inventio ). In particular, it was seen in conjunction with the mental skills of ingenuity and wit ( ingenium ), but also with the spirit, and not least with metaphor. But this theory is unoccupied.

In German language, these theories are recorded primarily in connection with the poetics of epigram. So still used Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who in 1771 used in the epigram Scattered notes on one of the first, the word " punch " in the German language writing, " Pointe " and " acumen " on equal footing.


  • Most short stories end with a punch line.
  • Anecdotes always end with a punch line.
  • In Limerick the punch line is always in the last row.
  • Many epigrams are written traditionally with a punch line.
  • The aphorism is pointedly tended.

See also: Klimax (voice ) ( climax of a story )