Catachresis: From the Greek for “misuse,” a term referring to the incorrect or strained use of a word. Catachresis often involves a mixed or “illogical” metaphor. The phrase tooth of a comb is a strict example of catachresis since combs do not really have teeth. The meaning of the word dry is strained when we refer to a town in which liquor cannot be purchased as “dry.” A classic literary example involving a mixed and illogical metaphor occurs in John Milton’s “Lycidas” (1638):
Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook… .