pro·​lep·​sis | \ prō-ˈlep-səs How to pronounce prolepsis (audio) \
plural prolepses\ prō-​ˈlep-​ˌsēz How to pronounce prolepsis (audio) \

Definition of prolepsis

: anticipation: such as
a : the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished
b : the application of an adjective to a noun in anticipation of the result of the action of the verb (as in "while yon slow oxen turn the furrowed plain")

Other Words from prolepsis

proleptic \ prō-​ˈlep-​tik How to pronounce prolepsis (audio) \ adjective
proleptically \ prō-​ˈlep-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce prolepsis (audio) \ adverb

Examples of prolepsis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Usually prolepsis is used to make an ending more tidy by resolving plotlines and squaring futures neatly away. Christine Smallwood, Harper's magazine, 16 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prolepsis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of prolepsis

1578, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prolepsis

Greek prolēpsis, from prolambanein to take beforehand, from pro- before + lambanein to take — more at latch

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The first known use of prolepsis was in 1578

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Cite this Entry

“Prolepsis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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