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

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. 2018

Examples from the Web for proleptic

Historical Examples of proleptic

British Dictionary definitions for proleptic


noun plural -ses (-siːz)
  1. a rhetorical device by which objections are anticipated and answered in advance
  2. 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 proleptic



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

proleptic in Medicine


n. pl. pro•lep•ses (-sēz)
  1. 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.