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n. pl. pro·lep·ses (-sēz)
1. The anachronistic representation of something as existing before its proper or historical time, as in the precolonial United States.
a. The assignment of something, such as an event or name, to a time that precedes it, as in If you tell the cops, you're a dead man.
b. The use of a descriptive word in anticipation of the act or circumstances that would make it applicable, as dry in They drained the lake dry.
3. The anticipation and answering of an objection or argument before one's opponent has put it forward.

[Late Latin prolēpsis, from Greek, from prolambanein, to anticipate : pro-, before; see pro-2 + lambanein, lēp-, to take.]

pro·lep′tic (-lĕp′tĭk), pro·lep′ti·cal (-tĭ-kəl) adj.


n, pl -ses (-siːz)
1. (Rhetoric) a rhetorical device by which objections are anticipated and answered in advance
2. (Grammar) 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
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek: anticipation, from prolambanein to anticipate, from pro-2 + lambanein to take]
proˈleptic, proˈleptical adj


(proʊˈlɛp sɪs)

n., pl. -ses (-sēz).
1. Rhet. the anticipation of possible objections in order to answer them in advance.
2. the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred.
3. the use of a descriptive word in anticipation of its becoming applicable.
[1570–80; < Late Latin prolēpsis < Greek prólēpsis anticipation, preconception, derivative of prolēp-, variant s. of prolambánein to anticipate]
pro•lep′tic (-tɪk) pro•lep′ti•cal, adj.
pro•lep′ti•cal•ly, adv.


- Anticipation before something starts is prolepsis.
See also related terms for starts.


anticipating an opponent’s argument and answering it before it can be made. See also future. — proleptic, adj.
See also: Argumentation
anticipation, as in anticipating or describing a future event. See also argumentation. — proleptic, adj.
See also: Future


The anticipation and answering of possible objections before they can be raised.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.prolepsis - anticipating and answering objections in advance
rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
References in periodicals archive ?
36) The narrative functions as a proleptical tombstone, a memorial, the Denkmaal that Kleist had written only a few months before he killed his acquaintance, Henriette Vogel, only to commit suicide immediately thereafter.
Boodberg, "Some Proleptical Remarks on the Evolution of Archaic Chinese," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 2 (1937): 329-72, esp.