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See more synonyms for catachresis on Thesaurus.com
  1. misuse or strained use of words, as in a mixed metaphor, occurring either in error or for rhetorical effect.
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Origin of catachresis

1580–90; < Latin < Greek: a misuse (akin to katachrêsthai to misuse), equivalent to kata- cata- + chrêsis use (chrê(sthai) to use, need + -sis -sis)
Related formscat·a·chres·tic [kat-uh-kres-tik] /ˌkæt əˈkrɛs tɪk/, cat·a·chres·ti·cal, adjectivecat·a·chres·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for catachresis

harm, maltreatment, mistreatment, prostitution, exploitation, waste, corruption, inhumanity, atrocity, brutality, cruelty, barbarity, desecration, misapplication, perversion, solecism, profanation, dissipation, barbarism, injury

Examples from the Web for catachresis

Historical Examples of catachresis

  • You must listen to the definition of a catachresis:—'A catachresis is the boldest of any trope.

    Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)

    Maria Edgeworth

  • It is a sort of quaint alteration or catachresis of Possunt quia posse videntur.

  • It is true that might be taken by catachresis to designate a chamberlain as functionary of the Oriental Court.

    The Apostles

    Ernest Renan

  • The hyperbole and catachresis are so nearly related to a bull, that I shall dwell upon them with pleasure.

  • Life is attributed to plants, only by a species of metaphor or catachresis.

    A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 7 (of 10)

    Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)

British Dictionary definitions for catachresis


  1. the incorrect use of words, as luxuriant for luxurious
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Derived Formscatachrestic (ˌkætəˈkrɛstɪk) or catachrestical, adjectivecatachrestically, adverb

Word Origin for catachresis

C16: from Latin, from Greek katakhrēsis a misusing, from katakhrēsthai, from khrēsthai to use
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for catachresis


1580s, from Latin catachresis, from Greek katakhresis "misuse" (of a word), from katakhresthai "to misuse," from kata- "down" (here with a sense of "perversion;" see cata-) + khresthai "to use" (see hortatory). Related: Catachrestic; catachrestical; catachrestically.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper