Catachresis (kat-a-kree’-sis): 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.
X: I baked your dreams at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Now, they ought to be delicious nightmares.
Y: What? “Baked my dreams”? “Delicious nightmares”? What the heck are you talking about? Do you know what catachresis is? Look it up!
- Post your own catachresis on the “Comments” page!
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).