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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.

     

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    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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