Do you ever have one of those mornings when dawn shatters at the sound of the alarm clock?

You literally fly out of bed, realizing that you only have a shred of time before an early phone appointment.

Leaving the blankets bunched at the foot of the bed, you lunge for the loo and end up tripping on a table leg.


Who put that nightstand there anyway?!

(We all know the answer to that one.)

So, there you are, holding your pummeled pinky toe and

shouting daggers,

when a lovely little lilac of a face peers through the doorway and coos,

“Good morning, Mommy! I love you!”

Ahhh …

The world melts at your feet (one of them still in your hand).

Your heart drizzles dreamily back into its proper place,

And, just like that,

the day sheds its dour demeanor

and begins to dance.

Can you guess what all of the bold phrases in this entry have in common?

They are all examples of catachresis [kat-uh-kree-sis].

Never heard of it?

Neither had I until yesterday, and I was compelled to have a little fun with it.

This obscure noun has a rather murky definition:

“Misuse or strained use of words, as in a mixed metaphor, occurring either in error or for rhetorical effect.”


Even the experts agree:

“The results in each case are so unique that it is hard to state a general figure of speech that embodies all of the possible results. It is far easier to give examples.”

So, that’s what I did!

I dare you to conjure up some catachreses of your own.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    How about ” she got ready in a heartbeat?” I have never heard of this word either. Who thinks these words up anyway??

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