Catachresis (cat-a-KREE-siss): Figure of association in which a highly unusual or outlandish comparison is made between two things. This figure moves beyond a metaphor by degrees -- the language used for comparative purposes is strikingly at odds with conventional usage.

 

 

Examples  

"Honey, you are a regular nuclear meltdown. You'd better cool off."

-- delivered by Susan Sarandon (from the movie Bull Durham)

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"Now I hear this year, more than usual, a kind of talk, apparently intended to make thinking citizens believe that there are few issues in this election, that the candidates are pretty much alike, and that it doesn’t even make much difference who is elected President. This talk, designed to blur the issues, started with that shotgun political romance between Nixon and Rockefeller."

-- Adlai Stevenson, 1960 Campaign address for John F. Kennedy

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"The President's decision yesterday, to set into motion the development of the hydrogen bomb, has placed us on a knife edge of history."

-- Henry M. Jackson

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"I'm the producer of this show. If I didn't step up, you're nowhere. I put this thing together on a spit and polish."

-- delivered by Dustin Hoffman (from the movie Wag the Dog)

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"There she stood on stage for all to see, showing off like the greedy songbird she was."

-- delivered by F. Murray Abraham (from the movie Amadeus)

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"Where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We're here to ask: Where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Kilpatrick, and so many others. Where are they now that we the men whom they sent off to war have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops and there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded. The Marines say they never leave even their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude."

-- John Kerry, Statement to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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"Mr. Jensen feels we're too catastrophic in our thinking. I argued that television was a volatile industry in which success and failure were determined week by week. Mr. Jensen said he did not like volatile industries and suggested with a certain sinister silkiness that volatility in business usually reflected bad management."

-- delivered by Robert Duvall (from the movie Network)

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"Now the jet black shadow of our want and misery came upon us step by step with certain precision, day after day, month after month, and year after year."

-- Huey P. Long, Saint Vitus Dance Government

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"C'mon rook. Show us that million dollar arm 'cause I gotta, oh, I gotta good idea about that five cent head of yours."

-- delivered by Kevin Costner (from the movie Bull Durham)

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Rhetorical Figures in Sound

Online Speech Bank

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American Rhetoric.
Created by Michael E. Eidenmuller.
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