Definition of prolepsis in English:



  • 1Rhetoric
    The anticipation and answering of possible objections in rhetorical speech.

    • ‘For Gilio, prolepsis was a ‘figure,’ a rhetorical device employed to augment the beauty of the work.’
    • ‘Drexler's book Engines of Creation is an extraordinary exercise in prolepsis: he meticulously refutes every technical objection he can anticipate.’
    expectation, prediction, forecast
    View synonyms
  • 2The representation of a thing as existing before it actually does or did so, as in he was a dead man when he entered.


Late Middle English (as a term in rhetoric): via late Latin from Greek prolēpsis, from prolambanein ‘anticipate’, from pro ‘before’ + lambanein ‘take’.