Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to catachresis: chiasmus, zeugma


n. pl. cat·a·chre·ses (-sēz)
1. The misapplication of a word or phrase, as the use of blatant to mean "flagrant."
2. The use of a strained figure of speech, such as a mixed metaphor.

[Latin catachrēsis, improper use of a word, from Greek katakhrēsis, excessive use, from katakhrēsthai, to misuse : kata-, completely; see cata- + khrēsthai, to use; see gher- in Indo-European roots.]

cat′a·chres′tic (-krĕs′tĭk), cat′a·chres′ti·cal (-tĭ-kəl) adj.
cat′a·chres′ti·cal·ly adv.


(Linguistics) the incorrect use of words, as luxuriant for luxurious
[C16: from Latin, from Greek katakhrēsis a misusing, from katakhrēsthai, from khrēsthai to use]
catachrestic, ˌcataˈchrestical adj
ˌcataˈchrestically adv


(ˌkæt əˈkri sɪs)

misuse or strained use of words, as in a mixed metaphor, occurring either in error or for rhetorical effect.
[1580–90; < Latin < Greek: a misuse =katachrê(sthai) to misuse (kata- cata- + chrêsthai to use, need) + -sis -sis)]
cat`a•chres′tic (-ˈkrɛs tɪk) cat`a•chres′ti•cal, adj.
cat`a•chres′ti•cal•ly, adv.


Incorrect use of words.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.catachresis - strained or paradoxical use of words either in error (as `blatant' to mean `flagrant') or deliberately (as in a mixed metaphor: `blind mouths')
rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
References in periodicals archive ?
Reserve functions as a type of anthropological stand-in for the failure of our imagination, a catachresis which defines, in its metaphoricity, our lack of knowledge.
Bruce Smith's "Hearing Green" takes more explicit pleasure in leaping, from its titular catachresis through greensickness and "Greensleeves" to the Campion/Daniel debate over rhyme and ultimately to a statement that provides an implicit rationale for this associative method: "To hear green would mean, then, allowing rhyme, alliteration, and assonance to divert the sense of hearing from its rational work.
90), and whose searing political epic and near-demented exaggeration of rhetorical tropes themselves provide commentary on the link of linguistic catachresis to the violation of political rights.
Aligning the fetish with catachresis, the rhetorical figure for abuse of metaphor, Freinkel documents the suspicion with which linguistic inventiveness was met by early modern rhetoricians.
This knowledge is evident also in his current book's title, a canny catachresis (borrowed from an earlier study of Montesquieu by Diana Schaub) from which opens up space for an investigation at once original and intelligently derivative.
The use of this trope has been dismissed, most notably by Quintilian, because it resembles catachresis, a confusing, mixed metaphor, and abusio, an unnatural wrenching of the meanings of words (Hollander 133).
The OED defines catachresis (abusio in Latin) as an "abuse or perversion of a trope or metaphor.
If queer formalism traces the textual itinerary of the catalogue of tropes--metaphor, synecdoche, simile, prosopopoeia, aposiopesis--to their origin or culmination in catachresis (and from there, often, to allegory), and in so doing restrains the queer-political project to what strict anti-formalists call the "merely" literary, then it also recalls deconstruction from its dead-end toward something that, while not constituting referentiality, approaches meaningful register.
While catachresis is traditionally understood as a mixed or strained metaphor, Rajan reads it as the figure in which metaphorical signification, failing to establish itself, collapses back into its own verbal, non-signifying materiality.
Martin's Press, 1994), 142,146-52; Tetsuya Motohashi, "Body Politic and Political Body in Coriolanus," Forum for Modern Language Studies 30 (1994): 97-112; Ortwin de Graef, "'Sweet Dreams, Monstered Nothings': Catachresis in Kant and Coriolanus," The Ethics in Literature, ed.
We cannot know what the reformulated human sciences would look like were they actually to develop along the lines that Spivak projects for them, but perhaps we can imagine something of the promise they would try to make, to students in the university, and to subaltern peoples beyond the ambit of educational and economic privilege, through their various acts of performative catachresis.
The literal overdetermination of the maternal figure--once supplemented by Byron's fear that he would abuse any prospective wife as his father (a false embodiment of the abusio, catachresis or not-quite "name of the father" embodied by the Wicked Lord) had abused his mother--creates a salt, estranging sea between Catherine Gordon [Byron] of Gight and her son: