Figure Name prolepsis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (;Quintilian 9.2.16-17 (#1) ; Mosellanus a4r ; JG Smith (1665) ("anthypophora"); JG Smith (1665) ("prolepsis"); Gibbons (1767) 191 ("prolepsis"); Macbeth (1876) ("anticipation," "prolepsis," "procatalepsis"); Holmes (1806) ("prolepsis"); De Mille (1882) ; Bullinger (1898) ("prolepsis (ampliatio); or, anticipation"), ("prolepsis (occupatio); or, anticipation"); Norwood (1742) ("prolepsis")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms procatalepsis, prolepsie, anticipation, propounder, anthypophora, ampliatio, occupatio, apantesis, anteoccupatio, praemonitio, ampliatio
Etymology Gk. "a taking beforehand" from pro "beforehand" and lambanein "to take" or "receive"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. A synonym for procatalepsis. (Silva Rhetoricae)
1. Speaking of something future as though already done or existing. A figure of anticipation. (Silva Rhetoricae)

3. Anthypophora: A contrary illation, or inference: see it in Prolepsis. (JG Smith)

4. Prolepsis: Anticipation, or the prevention of an objection: a figure whereby that which may be objected is anticipated, &c.; PROLEPSIS, Occupatio, Anticipatio, Occupation or the prevention of an Objection, derived from [pro] prae, before, and [lambano] capio, accipio, to take or receive; from whence [lepsis] acceptio, a taking: or it is derived from [prolambano] anticipo, to prevent. (Note in marg: This is called a figure of speech between two.) Anticipation, or the prevention of an objection is a figure or form of speech, whereby the Orator or Speaker perceiving aforehand what might be objected against him, and hurt him as to what he is about to deliver, doth confute it, before it be spoken; or when we prevent any objection, by framing an answer; or when we bring an objection and yield an answer thereunto: This figure hath Hypophora and Anthypophora necessarily relerting unto it. (JG Smith)

5. It is also a certain summary pronunciation of things; and is made when the congregation of the whole doth aptly agree with the verb or adjective, &c. (JG Smith)

6. "a Figure by which a speaker suggests an objection against what he is advancing, and returns an answer to it: or it is a Figure by which a speaker, more especially at the entrance upon his discourse, removes any sort of obstruction that he foresees may be likely to prevent the success of his cause." (Gibbons)

7 a) Prolepsis, or Procatalepsis, is the presupposing of the adversary's arguments, and the refuting of them beforehand. (Macbeth)

7 b) Anticipation, a figure not before catalogued, is very near of kin to the last [Prediction]. It is one of the most felicitous. "The murdered man," spoken of by Keats in the following, has not yet been slain, but his death is planned; a glare of the ghastly is thrown over the whole passage; the more, if the events amid which he plays his part be, as yet, joyous. It is as though a figure draped in the habiliments of the grave were to stalk through a ballroom:
"So the two brothers and their murdered man
Went on their way to Venice." (Macbeth)

8. Prolepsis your objection doth prevent, With answers suitable and pertinent. (Holmes)

Objections are often anticipated and answered. This case differs from the preceding one in this, that the speaker does not wait for the objections of this opponent, but brings them forward of his own accord, with the express purpose of replying to them by anticipation. (De Mille)

10. An Anticipation of some future Time which cannot yet be enjoyed: but has to be deferred... The Figure is so called when we anticipate what is going to be done, and speak of future things as present. (Bullinger, 895)

10. The answering of an Argument by anticipating it before it is used... This is a beautiful figure; by which we "anticipate" objections to what we are stating. (Bullinger, 938)

11. PROLEPSIS. Prolepsis, anticipatio: by this Figure we give a diversion to any thing that may be objected against us, by answering by way of prevention, the very objection ourselves. (Norwood, 97)


1. Oh, I am a dead man!
Obviously, the speaker refers less to the actuality of the moment as he does to the near future. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. The following scriptural verse refers to Christ's ultimate victory as though it had already occurred.
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. —Hebrews 2:8 (Silva Rhetoricae)

4. Did I walk abroad to see my delight? my walking was the delight it self.

He saw her alive; he was glad to see her alive.

He saw her weep: he was sorry to see her weep.

He heard her comfortable speeches: nothing more joyful. (JG Smith)

6. "[Cicero:] If any of you, O my judges, or of the other persons present, should be surprised that I, who have for so many years so conducted myself in causes and public trials, as that I have defended many, and injured none, should now suddenly alter my course, and turn accuser, such a person, upon being made acquainted with the reason and motive of my proceeding, will at once both approve what I am now doing, and will infallible determine that there is no manager in this cause to be preferred before me." (Gibbons)

7 a) "Gentlemen, such are the arguments which the speaker on the other side will address to you. I shall now show you how worthless they are." (Macbeth)

8. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but Grace? God forbid! (Holmes)

10. Isa. 37:22 beautifully speaks of the future rejoicing of Jerusalem at her deliverance from Sennacherib, as already present: "The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn"; etc. (Bullinger, 895)

10. Rom. 10:18. -"But I say, Have they not heard? (Anticipating the objection that they have not heard.) Yes verily," etc. (Bullinger, 940)

11. Rom. 11. 19, 21, 22. Thou wilt say then, the branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed left he also spare not thee. St. Paul here obviates the objection of the Gentiles who were inserted into the body of the Church, and the unbelieving Jews, who are here styled the broken branches, were rejected: this he tells the Gentiles, was a mighty favour of God, so to incorporate them with his Church; but then he also assures them, that they must not so far presume upon their present state and vocation; for if God spare not the natural branches, that is, the Jews themselves, take heed least he also spare not thee. For if be your disobedience you now incur God's displeasure, you cannot in reason, but expect to suffer the same unhappy fate with the Jewish nation. St. Paul, discoursing of the resurrection, resolves a difficult question concerning the mode and manner of the resurrection, and what sort of body shall be raised up from the grave. But some will say, how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? 1 Cor. 15. 35, 36. Thou fool. Our Saviour stifles their objection, by offering another, so very difficult, that they were unwilling to answer it. Matt. 21. 24, 25. I will also ask you one question, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men? This was such a dilemma, and the resolution of it so highly inconvenient, that they pretend ignorance, and answer, we cannot tell. (Norwood, 97-99)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures ampliatio, figures of time, anthypophora
Notes Unsure of 'type of'; perhaps "opposition" as per Gent's definition of anthypophora.-Nike Gent has two definitions for prolepsis with two separate examples. -Nike reformatted "example" section; didn't match current style --MC
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No