What is Catachresis: Definition and Examples

Catachresis is a figure of speech that involves the use of a word or phrase in a way that’s not in accordance with its conventional or literal meaning. It often occurs when a speaker or writer stretches the boundaries of language or metaphorical usage to convey a particular idea. Catachresis is sometimes used for rhetorical effect, humor, or to emphasize a point. Here’s an example of catachresis:

Catachresis is a form of figurative language that can add depth and creativity to writing or speech, as it involves using words in unexpected or unconventional ways to convey meaning.


1.  “The leaves danced in the wind’s gentle embrace.” In this sentence, the word “embrace” is used catachrestically because it’s normally associated with human actions rather than something like the wind. This usage is a poetic and imaginative way to convey the idea that the wind cradles the leaves.

2.  “She took a shower of compliments.”
In this example, “shower” is used catachrestically, as it’s typically associated with water and not compliments.

3.  “The idea is cooking in my mind.”
Here, “cooking” is used catachrestically to describe the mental process of developing an idea.

4.  “He was drowning in debt.”
“Drowning” is used catachrestically to convey the idea of being overwhelmed by debt.

5.  “Her words cut like a knife.”
In this case, “cut like a knife” is a catachrestic expression, as words don’t cut in a physical sense.

6.  “The music painted a vivid picture in my mind.”
“Painted” is used catachrestically to describe the creative impact of music on the listener’s imagination.

Also read; Ad Hominem: Definition, Features, and Examples