Definition of cataphor in English:



  • A word or phrase that refers to or stands for a later word or phrase (e.g. in when they saw Ruth, the men looked slightly abashed, they is used as a cataphor for the men).

    • ‘The twin problems of unresolved anaphors (such as pronouns, which refer back to words earlier in the text) and cataphors (ambiguous words signaling a term that shows up later in the text) are especially thorny.’
    • ‘We focus on linguistic signals of discourse coherence, such as connectives (because, although) and referential expressions (anaphors, cataphors).’
    • ‘A common solution appears to be simply to delete the dangling references from the summary, or, failing that, to pick up the preceding or subsequent sentence from the source text and hope that the anaphor or cataphor is resolved.’
    • ‘Here, we examine the processing of cataphors to resolve this issue.’
    • ‘The word ‘them’ is a cataphor - a reference to a word that occurs later in the sentence.’


1980s: back-formation from cataphora.