catachresis was our Word of the Day on 10/27/2011. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
As you might have guessed, catachresis is a word favored by grammarians. It can sometimes be used merely as a fancy label of disparagement for uses the grammarian finds unacceptable -as when Henry Fowler insisted in 1926 that mutual in "our mutual friend" was a catachresis. (Fowler preferred common, but mutual does have an established sense which is correct in that context.) The earliest recorded uses of catachresis date to the mid-16th century, and it has been used to describe (or decry) misuses of a word ever since. Catachresis comes to us by way of Latin from the Greek word katachrēsis, which means "misuse."
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