Catachresis


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.


I was reticent to utilize my tax returns to show my wealth. I had confirmed some of the numbers with prefabricated receipts so as to mollify the bottom line in agreement with the essay of my money’s worth. After all, my “Lester’s Live Worms” business had been rocking and wriggling ever since I pulled my first night crawler out of the ground in 1995 in Poorwig, New York and I became known as “The Worm King” throughout Central New York. And then, the Chinese started exporting worms at half my price. A worm-war ensued in America and worm-workers marched on Washington DC with their worm shockers and worm buckets demanding a tariff on Chinese worms. The tariff was passed by a narrow margarine. But now, I must convince the world I am not fabricating my net worm—ha ha—I mean net worth. If I can’t, I don’t have a chance of beating Trump in the primaries and running for President. Maybe I can “worm” my way out of all this and just be satisfied with being the worm king.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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