Definition of cataphor in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkatəfər/ Pronunciation: /-ˌfôr/


A word or phrase that refers to or stands for a later word or phrase (e.g., in when they saw Ruth, the men looked slightly abashed, the word they is used as a cataphor for the men).
Example sentences
  • The twin problems of unresolved anaphors (such as pronouns, which refer back to words earlier in the text) and cataphors (ambiguous words signaling a term that shows up later in the text) are especially thorny.
  • The word ‘them’ is a cataphor - a reference to a word that occurs later in the sentence.
  • A common solution appears to be simply to delete the dangling references from the summary, or, failing that, to pick up the preceding or subsequent sentence from the source text and hope that the anaphor or cataphor is resolved.


Late 20th century: back-formation from cataphora.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cat·a·phor

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