Catachresis

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Catachresis

 

in stylistics, a combination of lexically incompatible words that form a unique and meaningful whole (compare with oxymoron, a combination of words with contrasting and opposite meanings, such as in “a living corpse.”)

There are two types of catachresis: (1) that which comes into being naturally, through the development of the nominative means of a language, and which may be perceived at first as incorrect word usage (“white brownstone,” “to sail a steamship”); and (2) that which is created deliberately, for an intended effect (“black gold,” “when the crab whistles”). Catachresis can be either a verbal blunder (“let not the arms of the sharks of imperialism extend to us”), where the tropes are joined mechanically, or an illustration of great artistic skill:

But through the listless night the serpents of remorse

More shrewdly burn within me …

A. S. Pushkin

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For the theme catachrestically inscribed in the figure is the inescapable interdependence of patron and painter.
Fraunce is refreshingly up-front about this difficulty as he explains, in his opening paragraph, that in using the Latin symbolum for what the vernaculars call impresa or device, he is speaking, as he says, catachrestically, because of the lack of a received Latin term.