noun, plural prolepses [proh-lep-seez] .
Rhetoric. the anticipation of possible objections in order to answer them in advance.
the assigning of a person, event, etc., to a period earlier than the actual one; the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred; prochronism.
the use of a descriptive word in anticipation of its becoming applicable.
a fundamental conception or assumption in Epicureanism or Stoicism arising spontaneously in the mind without conscious reflection; thought provoked by sense perception.
Pathology. the return of an attack of a periodic disease or of a paroxysm before the expected time or at progressively shorter intervals.

1570–80; < Late Latin prolēpsis < Greek prólēpsis anticipation, preconception, equivalent to prolēp- (verbid stem of prolambánein to anticipate (pro- pro-2 + lambánein to take)) + -sis -sis

proleptic [proh-lep-tik] , proleptical, adjective
proleptically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
prolepsis (prəʊˈlɛpsɪs)
n , pl -ses
1.  a rhetorical device by which objections are anticipated and answered in advance
2.  use of a word after a verb in anticipation of its becoming applicable through the action of the verb, as flat in hammer it flat
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek: anticipation, from prolambanein to anticipate, from pro-² + lambanein to take]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1577, "the taking of something future as already done or existing," from L., from Gk. prolepsis "an anticipating," lit. "a taking beforehand," from prolambanein "to take before," from pro- "before" + lambanein "to take" (see analemma).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

prolepsis pro·lep·sis (prō-lěp'sĭs)
n. pro·lep·ses (-sēz)
The return of paroxysms of a recurrent disease at intervals that progressively become shorter.

pro·lep'tic (-lěp'tĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


a figure of speech in which a future act or development is represented as if already accomplished or existing. The following lines from John Keats's "Isabella" (1820), for example, proleptically anticipate the assassination of a living character:So the two brothers and their murdered manRode past fair

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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