A non sequitur
is a conversational and literary device, often used for comical purposes (as opposed to its use in formal logic
). It is a comment which, due to its lack of meaning relative to the comment it follows, is absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing. Its use can be deliberate or unintentional. Literally, it is Latin
for "it does not follow." In other literature, a non sequitur can denote an abrupt, illogical
, unexpected or absurd turn of plot or dialogue not normally associated with or appropriate to that preceding it.
Non sequiturs often appear to be disconnected or random comments, or random changes in subject, especially socially inappropriate ones. When non sequiturs are used frequently for comic effect this can be called "absurd humor".
The non sequitur can be understood as the converse of cliché. Traditional comedy and drama can depend on the ritualization and predictability of human emotional experiences, where the Theatre of the Absurd uses disjunction and unpredictability.