From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Catachresis (from Greek κατάχρησις, "the incorrect or improper use of a word") is used to denote the (usually intentional) use of any figure of speech that flagrantly violates the norms of a language community. Compare malapropism and solecism, which are unintentional violations of the norms.

Common forms of catachresis are:

  • Using a word in a sense radically different from its normal sense.
"'Tis deepest winter in Lord Timon's purse" — Shakespeare, Timon of Athens
  • Using a word to denote something for which, without the catachresis, there is no actual name.
"a table's leg"
  • Using a word out of context.
"Can't you hear that? Are you blind?"
"Black sun"
"To take arms against a sea of troubles..." – Shakespeare, Hamlet
This, however, may be neither a catachresis nor a mixed metaphor. Hamlet is pondering the futility of action: faced with a sea of troubles, taking up a sword and shield is not going to have an effect on the incoming wave. So understood, the quotation is a straightforward metaphor, though it can be interpreted as a catachresis.

Catachresis is often used to convey extreme emotion or alienation. It is prominent in baroque literature and, more recently, in dadaist and surrealist literature.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). Greek Grammar. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 677. ISBN 0-674-36250-0. 
Personal tools