A non sequitur (English: /nɒn ˈsɛkwɪtər/ non SEK-wit-ər, Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr]; "[it] does not follow") is a conversational literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it,[1] seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing. This use of the term is distinct from the non sequitur in logic, where it is a fallacy.[2]


The expression is Latin for "[it] does not follow".[3] It comes from the words non meaning "not" and the verb sequi meaning "to follow".[4]


A non sequitur can denote an abrupt, illogical, or unexpected turn in plot or dialogue by including a relatively inappropriate change in manner. A non sequitur joke sincerely has no explanation, but it reflects the idiosyncrasies, mental frames and alternative world of the particular comic persona.[5]

Comic artist Gary Larson's The Far Side cartoons are known for what Larson calls "...absurd, almost non sequitur animal" characters, such as talking cows, which he uses to create a "...weird, zany, ...bizarre, odd, strange" effect; in one strip, "two cows in a field gaze toward burning Chicago, saying 'It seems that agent 6373 had accomplished her mission.'"[6]

See also


  1. ^ The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  2. ^ "Non Sequitur - Examples and Definition of Non Sequitur". Literary Devices. 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  3. ^ Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary. http://mw1.m-w.com/dictionary/non%20sequitur Archived 2012-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Definition of NON SEQUITUR". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  5. ^ Chambers, Robert (2010). Parody: The Art that Plays with Art. Peter Lang Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-1433108693. Retrieved 2014-09-17. Along with a rhythmic pattern, these jokes, however absurd they may be, build dual frames of reference, if not alternative worlds entirely reflecting the idiosyncrasies of the individual stand-up artist.
  6. ^ Harrington, Richard (16 June 1983). "The Bizarre Side". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 August 2020.

Further reading