What the heck is a “Procatalepsis”?

When you start digging into literature, you start finding a lot of Greek words, because the Greeks had a huge impact on language for multiple reasons (they were certainly cultured and used one of the first alphabets). One of these words is “procatalepsis,” which sounds like a cool alien race, but it’s not—it’s actually a word with rhetorical value.


As defined by Literary Devices, procatalepsis is “a figure of speech that is also known as a ‘prebuttal,’ or a ‘prolepsis,’ in which the speaker or writer gives response to the objection of an opponent in his speech by repeating his objection.” Okay, so that’s a little confusing, but let’s dig in with a second definition from ThoughtCo.:

“Procatalepsis is a rhetorical strategy by which a speaker or writer anticipates and responds to an opponent’s objections.”

So that’s a little clearer. It’s a prebuttal of sorts, and what this means in execution is that during a conversation, one of the communicators has prior knowledge which effectively allows them to control the argument.

In other words, if you were a spendaholic, and your friends set up an intervention to try and help you through your mania, but you somehow found out that they were going to stage this intervention before you arrived, you could prepare for their criticisms beforehand, which would give you the upper hand in the conversation.

It’s obviously far more nuanced than that, but hopefully it gives you some new insight!

Works Cited