Can anyone remind me of the grammatical term for the apparent misapplication of an attributive adjective, as in the phrase "the naughty step" (where it is not the step itself that is naughty but the person consigned to it)?
Firstly the concept of intersectiveness should be considered:
From RE at Yahoo Answers [tidied]:
So 'naughty step' is an example of anti-intersection.
Another way to look at this is to consider that 'naughty step' has been used as a shortened equivalent of 'the step on which naughty pupils are condemned to sit'. The adjective is thus known as a transposed epithet.
The other way to refer to the peripheral adjective (it does not truly modify the noun it attaches to, ie refers to something other than the noun's referent) is as a non semantically-predicative adjective. Though there is an argument that it's no longer a true adjective ('a mere youth' = 'someone who is merely a youth' = 'a member of that group of not-yet-adults characterised by immaturity, both physical, intellectual ...).
It's a form of anthimeria, conversion or functional shift, though in this case it's a double case:
I can't think of any term specifically for an anthimeria that results in the same form, and since adjective → noun conversions are common enough in English, and noun → adjective so common as to barely count as conversions at all, even the double form doesn't strike me as that remarkable, compared to other cases.
There are two interesting features though. The first is that we can see it is being treated more like a noun-adjunct than an adjective by trying to use it predicatively:
This also changes adjective order:
We generally put judgements before material, and material before qualifiers or modifying nouns, so the former makes sense, but the latter suggests we are using naughty in its more common adjectival meaning, and the wooden step needs a spanking.
I don't know a single "technical term" for exactly this, but it looks like a "two-stage" process:
In short, it doesn't seem strictly correct to describe the process as "misapplication of an attributive adjective", because the original adjectival sense of "naughty" has already been supplanted by the derived noun sense before recycling as an adjective with somewhat different applicability.