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Catachresis

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  • In poetry, catachresis is the misapplication of a word or phrase to create a (usually) deliberately strained figure or a mixed metaphor. In nonpoetic writing and speech catachresis is often problematic, but poets have used it to achieve great compression and rhetorical energy in both serious and comic verse.

    Here are two famous examples of catachresis:

    ‘Tis deepest winter in Lord Timon’s purse.

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    (Shakespeare, Timon of Athens)

    Blind mouths!

    (Milton, Lycidas)

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