From Poetry Wiki
Catachresis (from Greek κατάχρησις), which literally means the incorrect or improper use of a word -- such as using the word decimate (e.g., "they were severely decimated") mistakenly for devastated -- is a term used to denote the (usually intentional) use of any figure of speech that flagrantly violates the norms of a language community. Compare malapropism.
Common forms of catachresis are:
- Using a word to denote something radically different from its normal meaning.
- Using a word to denote something for which, without the catachresis, there is no actual name.
- "a table's leg"
- Using a word out of context.
- 'Can't you hear that? Are you blind?'
- 'The Quality of Mercy is not Buffy' – Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- To take arms against a sea of troubles... – Shakespeare, Hamlet
- Arguably, however, this is perhaps neither a catachresis nor a mixed metaphor. In context, Hamlet is pondering futility: faced with a sea of troubles, taking up a sword and shield is not going to have an effect on the oncoming wave. In this sense, the quotation is a straightforward metaphor, albeit interpretable as a catachresis.