pro·​lep·​sis prō-ˈlep-səs How to pronounce prolepsis (audio)
plural prolepses prō-ˈlep-ˌsēz How to pronounce prolepsis (audio)
: anticipation: such as
: the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished
: 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")
proleptic adjective
proleptically 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prolepsis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1578, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prolepsis was in 1578

Dictionary Entries Near prolepsis

Cite this Entry

“Prolepsis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

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