Definition of catachresis in US English:


nounPlural catachreses

  • The use of a word in a way that is not correct, for example, the use of mitigate for militate.

    • ‘Its transformation seems more catachresis than irony, more a twisted similarity than an inversion or negation.’
    • ‘English and American studies, especially, seemed to be focusing on narrative and drama in ways that excluded from study bizarre and interesting phenomena such as obsessive rhythm and catachresis.’


Mid 16th century: from Latin, from Greek katakhrēsis, from katakhrēsthai ‘misuse’, from kata- ‘down’ (expressing the sense ‘wrongly’) + khrēsthai ‘use’.