Word of The Day for Saturday, September 25, 2010


pro•lep•sis    (pr-lpss)    n


1. A figure of speech in which a future event is referred to in anticipation. For example, a character who is about to die might be described as "the dead man" before he is actually dead. The same device can be used in non-verbal media such as film, where it is also called flashforward.

2. The anticipation of an objection. For example, a speaker might say "'Ah', you say, 'but that is impossible!'" Here the speaker is anticipating the objection 'Ah, but that is impossible!' from his audience—and is probably about to refute that objection before it arises. This form is more accurately called procatalepsis.

3. A grammatical construction that consists of placing an element in a syntactic unit before that to which it would logically correspond. Example: "That noise, I just heard it again", where that noise grammatically belongs in place of it.

4. A philosophical concept used in ancient epistemology (in particular by Epicurus and the Stoa) to indicate a so-called "preconception", i.e., a pre-theoretical notion which can lead to true knowledge of the world.

pro·lep·ses plural

pro·lep·tic adjective

pro·lep·ti·cal·ly adverb


Synonyms: prochronism, anticipation, procatalepsis
Related Words: analemma syllepsis analeptic syllable metalepsis

• From the moment of the death of the helmsman it is apparent that prolepsis is being used to add significance rather than suspense.
• Memory and prolepsis contribute to spiritual development — memory by transmitting the past and bestowing identity, prolepsis by incorporating a vision of the future into the present— thereby making creativity possible,


Late Latin prolpsis, from Greek, from prolambanein, to anticipate : pro-, before;  + lambanein,  to take

Sources: Wikipedia, FreeDictionary

Why This Word:

What's that, you say? Prolepsis is a perfectly useful word. Before you can object, allow me to say why.

Apart from anticipation, there is no common synonym. At that, no other word describes exactly this notion. Certainly pointing out a person's prolepsis is more succinct and to the point than pointing out their argument in advance of our objection.

Just as certainly prolepsis is a ubiquitous feature of modern discourse. With the near instantaneous speed of communications, the pressure to anticipate objections is high; as is the pressure to anticipate events in advance.

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