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From Latin prolepsis, from Ancient Greek πρόληψις (prólēpsis, preconception, anticipation), from προλαμβάνω (prolambánō, take beforehand, anticipate).



prolepsis (countable and uncountable, plural prolepses)

Examples (rhetoric)

Dead man walking. (He's not dead yet.)

Examples (logic)

Alexander Pope, Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot (1735)
You think this cruel? take it for a rule,
No creature smarts so little as a fool.

Examples (grammar, rhetoric)

That noise, I just heard it again.

  1. (rhetoric) The assignment of something to a period of time that precedes it.
  2. (logic) The anticipation of an objection to an argument.
    • 1835, L[arret] Langley, A Manual of the Figures of Rhetoric, [], Doncaster: Printed by C. White, Baxter-Gate, →OCLC, page 59:
      Prolepsis makes objections; then replies;
      And wisely thus anticipates surprise.
  3. (grammar, rhetoric) A construction that consists of placing an element in a syntactic unit before that to which it would logically correspond.
  4. (philosophy, epistemology) A so-called "preconception", i.e. a pre-theoretical notion which can lead to true knowledge of the world.
    • 2017, Attila Németh, Epicurus on the Self, page 42:
      Point (1) seems to imply that one may have a false judgement because of a mismatch between different criteria for truth. For example, my sensation is paired with a prolepsis of a horse, therefore I make an assertion that ‘there is a horse’, which upon further inspection may turn out to be a cow.
  5. (botany) Growth in which lateral branches develop from a lateral meristem, after the formation of a bud or following a period of dormancy, when the lateral meristem is split from a terminal meristem.
  6. (authorship) The practice of placing information about the ending of a story near the beginning, as a literary device.



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prolepsis f (plural prolepsis)

  1. prolepsis

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