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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 ?
All nature and all human nature, named as literal facts, are catachreses for God, the unknown X who can be known and named in no other way.
Or, Are her words catachreses, that is, figural substitutions for what Judith Butler defines as "that which is fundamentally irrecoverable within or by the figure itself" ("How Can I Deny That These Hands and This Body Is Mine?" 271)?
These are called in rhetorical terminology catachreses, figures that pass as literal words or have no literal equivalents, though they tend to be examined in the context of the problems of metaphor rather than personification.
entire works which are catachreses in principle, such as Finnegans Wake and the Alice books" (137).
If we focus on the moment of language acquisition, we can see why puns, homonyms, rhymes, nonsense terms, metaphors, or even catachreses cause such delight.