Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


\kat-uh-KREE-sis\ , noun;
Misuse or strained use of words, as in a mixed metaphor, occurring either in error or for rhetorical effect.
This monstrous metaphor should more aptly be called a catachresis, an extravagant, unexpected figure, and we might be tempted to dismiss it as abusive misstatement. But neither the catachresis nor the monster can simply be dismissed…
-- Richard L. Regosin, Montaigne's Unruly Brood
Analepsis, catachresis, no: the word she was after was “floundering." She could already write the review of her unwritten book: “lwlarina Thwaite flounders about in her subject. with little direction and still less progress.“
-- Claire Messud, The Emperor's Children
Catachresis is derived from the Greek root chrêsis which meant "to use." The prefix cata- means "down, back, against." The word katachrêsthai meant "to misuse" in Greek.
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