I'm wondering if there is a word/term or, even if not a single-word, just an accepted phrase that represents the idea of not necessarily misusing a word, but using it as its intended meaning, with a slightly different nuance?

So, to explain, an example of a catachresis could be using mitigate when the speaker meant militate. In that example, the user is not conveying what they want to convey, they're using a word with a completely different meaning than what they want.

An example of the word I am looking for, could be using terroir when talking about things other than wine.

The definition of terroir

The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

specifically calls out "wine" as being the thing in focus, meaning that these sentences:

The terroir of Hatch, New Mexico, means that only Anaheim peppers grown there can be considered authentic "Hatch Peppers."

The Florida Keys' warm, abundant, coastal rains, and alkaline soil contribute to the terroir of Key Limes, which leads to a bigger fruit than when grown elsewhere.

are not abiding to the literal definition of the word terroir, but they are using the word in a way that a reader could very easily understand what is meant because only one small nuance has changed (it's not about wine), and the general meaning of the word stays the same.

To supply an example where this term could come into play:

John _____ (past-tense verb) the word "terroir" because he used it when talking about peppers instead of wines.

John's _____ (noun) of the word "terroir" when talking about Hatch Peppers was amusing to me as I had recently done the same thing with Key Limes.

  • Thinking impressionistically, maybe improvised and improvisation? Jul 29, 2020 at 19:17
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    'catachresis' is essentially 'using a word wrong', so I don't think you mean that. The concept you are describing seems to be a 'broad use' or a 'metaphor' or 'figuratively'.
    – Mitch
    Jul 29, 2020 at 19:20
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    terroir is not about wine per se. It is applied to wine but could by extension apply to other agricultural products/produce.
    – Lambie
    Jul 29, 2020 at 19:20
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    The complement of 'literal' is 'figurative'.
    – Mitch
    Jul 29, 2020 at 19:21
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    As a verb, to extend. OED definition: "To widen the range, scope, area of application of (a law, operation, dominion, state of things, etc.); to enlarge the scope or meaning of (a word)."
    – ermanen
    Jul 29, 2020 at 20:47


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