[ proh-lep-sis ]
/ proʊˈlɛp sɪs /

noun, plural pro·lep·ses [proh-lep-seez] /proʊˈlɛp siz/.

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.

Nearby words

  1. prolation,
  2. prole,
  3. proleg,
  4. prolegomenon,
  5. prolegomenous,
  6. proleptic,
  7. proles,
  8. proletarian,
  9. proletarianism,
  10. proletarianize

Origin of prolepsis

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

Related formspro·lep·tic [proh-lep-tik] /proʊˈlɛp tɪk/, pro·lep·ti·cal, adjectivepro·lep·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prolepsis

British Dictionary definitions for prolepsis


/ (prəʊˈlɛpsɪs) /

noun plural -ses (-siːz)

a rhetorical device by which objections are anticipated and answered in advance
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
Derived Formsproleptic, adjective

Word Origin for prolepsis

C16: via Late Latin from Greek: anticipation, from prolambanein to anticipate, from pro- ² + lambanein to take

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 prolepsis



1570s, "the taking of something anticipated as already done or existing," from Latin prolepsis, from Greek prolepsis "an anticipating," literally "a taking beforehand," from prolambanein "to take before," from pro- "before" (see pro-) + lambanein "to take" (see analemma). Related: Proleptic; proleptical; proleptically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for prolepsis


[ prō-lĕpsĭs ]

n. pl. pro•lep•ses (-sēz)

The return of paroxysms of a recurrent disease at intervals that progressively become shorter.
Related formspro•leptic (-lĕptĭk) adj.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.