Definition of catachresis in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌkatəˈkriːsɪs/

noun (plural catachreses /ˌkatəˈkriːsiːz/)

[mass noun]
The use of a word in an incorrect way, for example the use of mitigate for militate.
Example sentences
  • English and American studies, especially, seemed to be focusing on narrative and drama in ways that excluded from study bizarre and interesting phenomena such as obsessive rhythm and catachresis.
  • Its transformation seems more catachresis than irony, more a twisted similarity than an inversion or negation.



Pronunciation: /ˌkatəˈkriːstɪk/ /ˌkatəˈkrɛstɪk/
Example sentences
  • If the narrator's loss of a proper name were catachrestic - a radical misnaming - then we could posit a potential possession of his proper name by virtue of the presupposed latent proper name in the notion of ‘misnaming.’
  • But these are not, properly speaking, assistants, but are called so only in a catachrestic manner, by a kind of abuse of language, for they are found in reality to be enemies to man.


Mid 16th century: from Latin, from Greek katakhrēsis, from katakhrēsthai 'misuse', from kata- 'down' (expressing the sense ‘wrongly’) + khrēsthai 'use'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cata|chre¦sis

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