|Source||Ad Herennium 4.33.35 ("abusio"); Quintilian 8.2.6; 8.6.34-36; Susenbrotus (1540) 11 ("catachresis," "abusio"); Sherry (1550) 41 ("catachresis", "abusio"); Wilson (1560) 200 ("abusion"); Peacham (1577) C4r; Putt. (1589) 190 ("catachresis," "figure of abuse"); Day 1599 79; Hoskins 1599 11; Butler B1r-v ; Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); JG Smith (1665) ("catachresis"); Ad Herennium (343); Garrett Epp (1994) ("abusio," "catachresis"); Gibbons (1767) 98 ("catachresis"); Vinsauf ([c 1215] 1967) ("catachresis (abusio)"); Holmes (1806) ("catachresis"); Macbeth (1876; De Mille (1882); Du Marsais (1730) ('la catachrèse'); Blount (1653) 6; Blackwall (1718); Bullinger (1898) ("catachresis; or, incongruity")|
|Synonyms||abusio, figure of abuse, abusion, incongruity|
|Etymology||Gk. from kata "against" and chreesthai "to use" hence cat'-a-chree-sis "misuse"|
1. The use of a word in a context that differs from its proper application. This figure is generally considered a vice; however, Quintilian defends its use as a way by which one adapts existing terms to applications where a proper term does not exist. (Silva Rhetoricae)
2. Abuse: it is the abuse of a trope, and is when words are too far wrested from their native and genuine signification.; Catachresis, abusio, abuse, derived from [catachraomai] abutor, to abuse, or from the praeposition [cata] contra, against, and [chresis] usus, use. It is a form of speech, whereby the speaker or writer, wanting a proper word, borroweth the next or the likest to the thing that he would signifie. It is an improper kinde of speech, somewhat more desperate than a Metaphor, and is the expressing of one matter by the name of another, which is incompatible with, and sometimes clean contrary to it: and is when the change of speech is hard, strange· and unwonted: or, It is the abuse of a Trope, when words are too far wrested from their native signification, or when one word is abusively put for another, for lack of the proper word: (JG Smith)
3. Catachresis is the inexact use of a like and kindred word in place of the precise and proper one (Ad Herennium)
4. Inexact use of a word (also the unintentional misuse of a word, which is considered a fault). (Garrett Epp)
5. "…it borrows the name of one thing to express another,  which has either no proper name of its own, or  if it has, the borrowed name is used either for surprising by novelty, or for the sake of a bold and daring energy." (Gibbons)
6. There is likewise an urbane imprecision of diction when a word is chosen which is neither literal nor precise in its context, but which is related to the literal word. (Vinsauf)
7. A Catachresis words too far doth strain Rather from such abuse of speech refrain. (Holmes)
8. Catachresis itself deserves to be catalogued as a legitimate form of : a metaphor that borders on impropriety, or seems to confound the nature of things; a breaking loose into a bad construction such as grammar forbids; lawful when it arises from a crowd of thoughts clouding the right construction out of sight, or from warmth of emotion rendering the speaker all unmindful of Lindley Murray or Gould Brown. We speak of a silver candlestick; Horace writes of children riding on horseback on a long reed; Moses tells us of the blood of the grape. The reader has a certain delight in seeing the bands of syntax thrown off now and then, and the reins cast wild, on the neck of the steed wilder than of the Ukraine. (Macbeth)
9. 111. CATACHRESIS.
10. Abus, extension, ou imitation. Les langues les plus riches n' ont point un
Abuse, extension, or imitation.
11. "CATACHRESIS, in English, Abuse, is now grown in fashion, as most abuses are; It is somewhat more desperate than a Metaphor; And is the expressing of one matter by the name of another, which is incompatible with, and sometimes clean contrary to it" (Blount)
12. Catachresis or Abuse is a bold Trope, which borrows the Name of one thing to express another thing; which either has no proper Name of its own, or, if it has, the borrow'd Name is more surprizing and acceptable by its Boldness and Novelty.
13. One word changed for another only remotely connected with it... Catachresis is a figure by which one word is changed for another, and this against or contrary to the ordinary usage and meaning of it. The word that is changed is transferred from its strict and usual signification to another that it only remotely connected with it... Catachresis is of three kinds:-
2. In this example, what is meant is conveyed through a misapplication of one part of the body to another.
2. By the license of this figure we give names to many things which lack names: as when we say, The water runs, which is improper; for to run, is proper to those creatures which have feet and not unto water. By this form also we attribute hornes to a snail, and feet to a stool; and so likewise to many other things which lack their proper names. (JG Smith)
?. The word "parricide" literally means a killer of one's father, but for lack of proper terms, is also used to refer to killing one's mother or brother:
In this example, no parallel idiom to "sight unseen" exists for things auditory, so the idiom is wrenched from its proper context to this unusual one.
Similarly, there is no word comparable to "sightseeing" for a similar sort of tour done with sound, and so a familiar (if technically inappropriate) use of "seeing" is used:
3. "The power of man is short" (Ad Herennium)
3. "the long wisdom in the man" (Ad Herennium)
3. "to engage in a slight conversation" (Ad Herennium)
4. I will speak daggers to her, but use none. (Hamlet 3.2 qtd. in Garrett Epp)
5. (1) "Thus Quintillian allows us to say that we dart a ball or a stake, though darting belongs only to a javelin."(Gibbons)
5. (2) "Thus Virgil says, 'The goat himself, man of the flock, had fray'd.' by man, evidently meaning the father and leader of the flock." (Gibbons)
6. For example, it one proposes to say: The strength of the Ithacan is slight, but yet he has mind of great wisdom, let catachresis alter the wording thus: Strength in Ulysses is short, wisdom in his heart is long, for there is a certain affinity between the words long and great, as between short and slight. (Vinsauf)
7. The Man, i.e. Chief, of the Flock. He threatens, i.e. promises, a Favour. (Holmes)
9. "There, too, the goddess loves in stone, and fills
10. par exemple : l' usage ordinaire est de clouer des fers sous les piés des chevaux, ce qui s'apèle ferrer un cheval : --
for example, the normal usage of nailing irons to the hooves of horses we call “to iron a horse” (Du Marsais [trans. Abbott])
10. par exemple ; feuille se dit par extension ou imitation des choses qui sont plates et minces, come les feuilles des plantes --
for example, “leaf” means by extension or imitation things which are flat and thin like leaves of plants. (Du Marsais [trans. Abbott])
11. "I gave order to some servants of mine, (whom I thought as apt for such charities as myself) to lead him out into a Forrest, and there kill him; where Charity is used for Cruelty." (Blount)
12. Down thither prone in Flight
13. [ex. of i.] Lev. 26:30. -"I will cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols." (Bullinger, 676)
13. [ex. of ii.] Exod. 5:21. -"Ye have made our savour to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh."
13. [ex. of iii]. Matt. 24:29. -"And the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." Hence dunameis "powers," means really "armies," from the Hebrew chayeel which has both meanings. (Bullinger, 679)
|Related Figures||metaphor, acyron, metalepsis|
|Last Editor||Ioanna Malton|
|Editorial Notes||type of unclear The examples are jumbled up. There was an example from "J Smith" which I did not input, and other unnumbered and unnamed examples. -Nike|