One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The rhetorical figure consisting in the metonymical substitution of one word for another which is itself a metonym; (more generally) any metaphorical usage resulting from a series or succession of figurative substitutions.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Richard Sherry (b. c1505), schoolmaster and author. From post-classical Latin metalepsis, variant of classical Latin metalēmpsis (1st cent. a.d. in Quintilian) from ancient Greek μετάληψις alternation, succession (in Hellenistic Greek as a rhetorical term) from μετα- + -ληψις, after μεταλαμβάνειν to substitute.
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