The term pointe, defined by the Oxford-Duden German Dictionary as a “punch line, conceit or [plot] twist,” refers in French and German to the witty effect of funny, surprising, and ingenious twists. Prototypically, pointes can be found at the end of short literary narrative texts, such as jokes, anecdotes, and epigrams.

For the sake of a terminological overview, it is useful to differentiate between (1) the use of pointe in normative treatises of the 17th and 18th centuries that give advice on how to write literary texts, and (2) its descriptive use in research (in particular in German), where the term has a meaning similar to that of “punch line.”


Etymologically, pointe is something acute or pointed, and during the Renaissance it appears as a literary term ...

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