Word of the Day Archive
Saturday March 16, 2013
1. Rhetoric. the anticipation of possible objections in order to answer them in advance.
2. 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.
3. the use of a descriptive word in anticipation of its becoming applicable.
4. a fundamental conception or assumption in Epicureanism or Stoicism arising spontaneously in the mind without conscious reflection; thought provoked by sense perception.
5. Pathology. the return of an attack of a periodic disease or of a paroxysm before the expected time or at progressively shorter intervals.
It looks as though Homer, in this dubious prolepsis, were himself referring to an ambiguous tradition, or rather — since nothing in the present case prevented him from choosing, as did his continuators after him — as though he wished to leave them an open field by merely indicating the two possible roads to follow.
-- Gérard Genette, Palimpsests, 1997
As this is accomplished, the women are suddenly awakened to the various ways in which they have not yet shed the chains of the past, and as in a perfectly wrought prolepsis, intuit one another as the necessary tools with which to do so.
-- Terri Ginsberg, "Entre Nous, Female Eroticism, and the Narrative of Jewish Erasure", Romancing the Margins?, 2000
Prolepsis came to English in the mid-1400s from the Ancient Greek prolambanein literally meaning "to take before."