Want to pack more punch than a metaphor provides? Consider hypocatastasis

Metaphors and similes are figures of speech used to add flair and/or humor to a phrase. These popular rhetorical devices are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to get to the point; enter hypocatastasis.

Hypo is derived from the Greek “under,” cata comes from the Ancient Greek kata, meaning “down from, or down to,’ and stasis is Greek for “standing still.”

Linguistically, both a hypocatastasis and a metaphor imply a resemblance, representation or comparison. However, hypocatastasis packs more of a punch than a metaphor because the former uses only one noun, (the other noun is implied), while the latter uses two nouns. For example, “You are a rockstar!” is a metaphorical phrase because two nouns are present – “you” and “rockstar.” If you simply said “rockstar!” – the “you,” or object, is implied, therefore creating a hypocatastasis.

Hypocatastasis is common in the Bible. For example, when Satan is simply referred to as a “serpent;” the serpent/Satan comparison is implied, thus a hypocatastasis.

Help us think of other examples of this useful and infrequent figure of speech, both in classic literature and popular culture. Let us know, below.


  1. Angelo -  September 19, 2014 - 6:35 am

    I read this article fully regarding the resemblance of most up-to-date and earlier technologies, it’s awesome article.

  2. wave walker -  October 22, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    Another word that might be used interchangeably with Hypocatastasis is “epithet.” An epithet is a word that’s used to describe somebody/something in a way that alludes to a characteristic of nature (used normally in conjunction witha proper noun). As well, it’s intended to convey something other than that which is apparent about the person/place/thing/idea.

    e.g., Ancient of Days

    This term (epithet) is applied to Jesus Christ, intending to exemplify the fact that he had no beginning, that he’s always been the overseer of all that has transpired within humanity and the creation.

    see also “epithet.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 22 Oct. 2011. .

  3. Sean_actually -  April 15, 2011 - 7:07 am


  4. Dazhelle -  April 11, 2011 - 7:38 am

    wow this is great i hopee peoplee will betterr understanddd thee meaningg of this stuff ! its some gudd informationn thats in this paragraph ! thanks guys for who ever made it :]

  5. canada13 -  April 9, 2011 - 7:41 pm

    Tabernacle !

  6. Natalie -  April 9, 2011 - 3:35 pm

    Isn’t this just like synecdoche?

  7. ENTOMB | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  April 9, 2011 - 10:15 am

    [...] with protective antiseptic meanings. — Even for a Natural like Raymond J Johnson, Junior, Mayhap — With blatant linkage overtly observable we obviously deserve a slap.  — [...]

  8. Jeff -  April 8, 2011 - 5:11 pm


    I don’t understand something? Lol, no. I understand quite well actually. The bible (notice the non-emphasis on the ‘b’, similar to the non-emphasis on the ‘g’ in god) is a collection of stories and idiocy based on the rantings of people who had no way of explaining the world around them. As a result, they created fantastical tales that, other people being unable to explain the world around them, took as truth. Fast forward 2000 years and (along with the other religions, which are founded on the same basic idiocy) you inexplicably have people still believing the same archaic nonsense that they did before the renaissance, before the dark ages, and before the hundreds of years that came between the dark ages and the time that it was written.

    It has no bearing the world around us, no ability to explain the magnitude of awesomeness which this galaxy is. The bible amounts to the stories of primitives who had no vocabulary or understanding that could possibly account for what is possible outside of this planet.

  9. Francis -  April 8, 2011 - 4:22 pm

    @meagan and A.E, if humor had no ‘u’, wouldn’t it be ‘hmor’?

  10. peanut fan -  April 8, 2011 - 11:39 am

    how about Lucy telling Charlie brown, “You’re a blockhead Charlie brown!” and other times she just yells “BLOCKHEAD!”

  11. psdbs -  April 8, 2011 - 11:11 am

    Light bulb! (from Despicable Me)

  12. Captain Jack -  April 8, 2011 - 10:50 am


  13. Phobos -  April 8, 2011 - 10:46 am


  14. slickthief -  April 8, 2011 - 10:35 am

    okie! Now this is funny! :P

  15. Known Issues -  April 8, 2011 - 10:21 am

    That example (I paraphrase), ‘Hercules, over here, thinks he should carry my clothes for me,’ was very good. Nice to see an example in a sentence.

    ‘Wizard cracks the code! Again!’ Could be another egs.

  16. fox -  April 8, 2011 - 9:18 am


  17. fox -  April 8, 2011 - 9:17 am


  18. Adam -  April 8, 2011 - 8:33 am

    To get back to the point of this, presumably nicknames are hypocatastases (or whatever the plural is)? So some examples:

    The King (Elvis Presley)
    The King of Pop (Michael Jackson)
    The Duke (John Wayne)
    Tricky Dicky (Richard Nixon)
    Old Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra)
    The Iron Lay (Margaret Thatcher)
    Little Sparrow (Edith Piaf)

    And also some examples of Cockney Rhyming slang must be hypocatastases too? For example:

    Ruby (curry)
    Clements (piles)

    You could even take it a level further and use Cockney Rhyming slang in place of a word that it already a hypocatastasis, to make a double-hypocatastasis, for example

    Hampton Wick (prick)
    Khyber Pass (ass/arse)
    Raspberry Tart (fart)
    Fridge/Julius (geezer)
    and other such delightfully positive names to call people


    China (mate)
    Trouble (wife)
    Bottles (police)
    and other less offensive examples

    For those that don’t know CRS, Ruby is short for Ruby Murray, China is short for China plate, Trouble is short for trouble and strife, bottles is short for bottles and stoppers, which becomes coppers, Clements is short for Clement Freud, or haemorrhoid, fridge is short for fridge and freezer, Julius is short for Julius Caesar.

  19. Summertime in Japan -  April 8, 2011 - 7:04 am


  20. TheOddStrange -  April 8, 2011 - 6:38 am

    The only problem that we have now is worrying about people calling us “you” and implying a naughty word- which will just make them look stupid when they say something like ‘Hey, you!” and bursting into fits of giggling.

  21. Jess -  April 8, 2011 - 6:06 am

    Just a reminder for all you English/grammar die-hard people making corrections on other people’s posts: PERIODS belong INSIDE the parentheses. Damn, typing this from my cell – I hope I spelled everything properly or else I’ll be getting retaliation posts after this.

  22. Gemmy -  April 8, 2011 - 5:50 am


    I have to agree with Jennie, you guys can be real ‘nitpickers’. Did you consider poor Alexander was simply trying to be helpful by pointing out what he thought to be an error? If he is even half as English as myself, then he wouldn’t be anymore aware of the lack of a second ‘u’ in the American version of our ‘humour’ than I myself was, until reading this piece of literary criticism.

    Strangely enough, I also find that after looking at an article about an obscure written rule, I have come away with more knowledge of the Bible than said rule.

    Isn’t life strange?

  23. Josh -  April 8, 2011 - 5:40 am

    This is SWEET

  24. Curly -  April 8, 2011 - 5:26 am


    It is the other way around, actually. Synecdoche is substituting the part for the whole. It can be classified as a subcategory of metonymy, which is substituting something related to the thing meant.

  25. Rich -  April 8, 2011 - 4:58 am

    The trolls are so annoying.

  26. A.A -  April 8, 2011 - 4:54 am

    @carly yep you’re right. very confusing…

  27. Haha -  April 8, 2011 - 4:15 am

    I know I am

  28. EMF -  April 8, 2011 - 4:05 am

    Thought the ‘dictionary’ was classified in it’s own blurb as English. NOT American English. Remember because I was pleased to see it. Surely therefore, the primary spellings and definitions in the dictionary should be the English ones although the American et al variations should be referred to as variants.

  29. Wouter Walmink -  April 8, 2011 - 3:54 am

    The short style of haiku is a great source of implied but unspoken references. If I get the definition right, it’s packed with hypocatastatis.

  30. alex -  April 8, 2011 - 3:54 am

    isn’t this just another (longer) word for Metonymy???

  31. Tara -  April 8, 2011 - 3:47 am

    Keep it coming, keep it coming! Probably due to the fact that I spell ‘humour’ with two ‘U’s (or could I say double U?), I have found this mixed bag of comments most entertaining. The fondue of inane examples suggested by pre-pubescent teenagers (whom I can only applaud for actually being on this site) stirred in with the discussion between the pro-Jesus clan and the followers of Darwin, peppered by the comments of a few people who actually do seem to know what they are talking about has been knicker-wetting (whetting?). This is a keeper! I do wish the moderators do not decide to screen out people who can only communicate in sms-lingo. They’re gr8!

  32. danvillas -  April 8, 2011 - 1:30 am

    Metonymy is a type of metaphor that replaces the name of one thing with the name of something else closely associated with it. For instance:

    “the crown” for the monarchy
    “Dante” for his works
    “the press” for journalism

    Synecdoche is also another kind of metaphor. The part stands for the whole, or more rarely the whole stands for the part.

    “ten hands” stand for ten workman
    “wheels” stand for an automobile

  33. Eden -  April 8, 2011 - 1:20 am

    What is this? Grammar Nazi heaven?!

  34. Newton -  April 8, 2011 - 1:02 am

    @oddstrange :
    It sounds very fun.—> “It sounds very funny”
    Now all i has to do is wait for ….—> “Now all I HAVE to do… ”
    :D :D :D

  35. Volt4Ron@yahoo.com -  April 7, 2011 - 11:02 pm

    @dictionary.com: “Hypocatastasis” really is a hot word.
    Graham, Is your’ first name Billy?

  36. Volt4Ron@yahoo.com -  April 7, 2011 - 11:00 pm

    @Alexander: Labour has a ‘u’ in it too.

    Wars and rumors of war, earth quakes… signs of the end times. This isn’t the time to argue semantics. If I’m wrong we have nothing to lose. If I’m right we all need salvation. Does any one know how to receive “Salvation”?

    Good! Bad! Sanctified! Abomination! ;-(

  37. Volt4Ron@yahoo.com -  April 7, 2011 - 10:57 pm

    @William: Yeah! It appears you’re absolutely correct. Serpents are not good. Leviticus 11:42 any thing going on the belly…
    “Dragons find you good and crunchy w/ ketchup.” is Bumper-sticker I had seen on a Witches tool box I had always found humorous. That Witches friend accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. All praise to G’d.

  38. Volt4Ron@yahoo.com -  April 7, 2011 - 10:48 pm

    @Graham: I just don’t want to wind up feeling a “hypocatastasis” like yours.

  39. Psyclone -  April 7, 2011 - 10:47 pm

    Okay, everyone can stop quoting Revelations now. As crazy as it may seem, the people you’re debating with HAVE seen the other five or so posts saying the exact same thing. I know, I know, it’s unbelievable.

  40. Neutral G. Muffin -  April 7, 2011 - 8:42 pm

    Oh. I just read Bernadette’s comment. Nevermind . . .

  41. Neutral G. Muffin -  April 7, 2011 - 8:39 pm

    Back to the “humour/humor” thread that has grown unnecessarily and ridiculously long:
    Why do all of the American spellings drop the “u” ? Example: Colour/color
    Were we just lazy?
    However, I do favor the minimal usage of unnecessary letters, so that’s fine with me. :)

  42. Leslie -  April 7, 2011 - 8:31 pm

    @ Bernadette: You’re my hero! I was tempted to say something about Webster, but it’s already been said and said much better than I would have.
    @ Maddy M and @ Lauren: As an English teacher and word nerd, I am thrilled about you thinking of your teachers. They must be proud!

  43. Shawn -  April 7, 2011 - 7:39 pm

    @L: Rockstar! :D I was thinking the same thing!

    Another hypocatastasis is saying “Ridiculous!” when faced with something like “Talking snakes did exist!”

  44. Kevin -  April 7, 2011 - 7:32 pm


    I love writing and never heard of this term before. I’m quite surprised.


  45. Bazaar -  April 7, 2011 - 6:39 pm

    Former Sydney Morning Herald political columnist here in Australia, once used a simile to describe former Prime Ministe John Howard, whom he despised, as being “like a toad”. This was in reference to Howard’s stubborn unmovability on many issues, and from the office of PM itself, despite being an unpopular leader. It was also a disparaging reference to Howard’s somewhat toadish physical appearance and tone of voice. That is, he was a short, bespectacled’ balding, round-faced, stony-jawed man, with a somewhat nasal, monotonous drone.

    After this first reference, in subsequent articles up to the very end of his Prime Ministership – Ramsay would from then on simply refer to Howard in his articles, as “The Toad” – hence, a hypocatastasis.

    In Australian political culture – particularly among Ramsay’s readers (he had a large following), in the press gallery and among politicians themselves – Howard became known, thanks to Ramsay, as The Toad.

  46. Faith -  April 7, 2011 - 6:18 pm

    I like it!

  47. Greg -  April 7, 2011 - 6:18 pm

    @TheOddStrange: Your name is spelled wrong, too. In the US it should be “TheOddStangle.”

  48. OrbBuster -  April 7, 2011 - 6:14 pm

    @Alexandeur: The correcte spelling ouf “humour” is humoure! Everyoune knowest thate!

  49. A -  April 7, 2011 - 5:56 pm

    L is 100% correct. The writer of Revelations may have interpreted it as Satan and that’s all fine and dandy but the Genesis text itself doesn’t suggest anything of the sort.

  50. hcs -  April 7, 2011 - 5:19 pm

    Made a good reading :)

  51. Oh so Pogi -  April 7, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    hey, how about tackling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? and what it hypocatastasisly means? :)

  52. Dale -  April 7, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    To all who argue over humor/humour: Both are correct given certain conditions. Those conditions in this case have to do with location. That’s what makes language such a marvelous thing. It evolves with the population that uses it. Over distances and periods of time, language changes differently for different people. It’s really rather amazing.

    To those who argue about theology: Dictionaries are about words, not The Word. Let’s leave it out of this.

    To Dictionary.com: I’m with those who find it odd that the hot word is not in your dictionary. You should correct that.

    Example of hypocatastasis: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  53. geek -  April 7, 2011 - 3:49 pm

    In stead of just asking other people to figure out what these words mean: synecdoche and metonymy and epithet, LOOK THEM UP. Here, I’ll do it for y’all: synechdoche: noun a figure of speech in which a part is substituted for a whole or a whole for a part, as in 50 head of cattle for 50 cows, or the army for a soldier. Metonymy: noun Compare synecdoche the substitution of a word referring to an attribute for the thing that is meant, as for example the use of the crown to refer to a monarch. Epithet: noun a descriptive word or phrase added to or substituted for a person’s name: “Lackland” is an epithet for King John. By the way, hypocatastasis is an awesome word.

  54. Chaos -  April 7, 2011 - 3:35 pm


  55. Hutch -  April 7, 2011 - 3:31 pm

    Wonderfully confusing. Now I have to discern the differences between epithet, hypocatastasis, and — hypocatastasis isn’t in my computer’s dictionary, interesting — metonymy, in relation to metaphor.

    - Hutch

  56. canada13 -  April 7, 2011 - 3:29 pm


  57. ffej -  April 7, 2011 - 3:25 pm

    @Jennie ; Props

  58. canada13 -  April 7, 2011 - 3:12 pm


  59. Von -  April 7, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    Daniel Cartwright, you spell humour with a U in New Zealand as well, and other countries. Geddit right :P

  60. Andrew -  April 7, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    Don’t forget:

    Up till the Modern English period (abt. 1550) the usual spelling in England was “honor”, color” and “favor” …….etc.

  61. Andrew -  April 7, 2011 - 2:09 pm

    To settle the dispute of “humour”:
    The spelling “humour” of course comes from (Norman) French, which in turn got the word from Latin. “(humor” meaning a liquid, …i.e. the four liquids believed to be in a human body and thereby determining the person’s mental character: ….melancholic-choleric-sanguine-phlegmatic). As Latin words usually passed into Romance languages in the accusative case (where the stress was shifted to the second syllable) French more often than not has the stress om a word’s last syllable, -in this word indicated by the spelling “-our”. Words like this were adopted in English after the Norman Conquest, and in Middle English we still see e.g. “ho’nour” with a semi-French pronunciation [ho'nu:r].

  62. ewrtjytr -  April 7, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    @bronny, the american spelling humor, and all those other differences from british english were actually made as a sort of american national pride type thing, because if they had just became independent from england, they didnt want to be like them so therefore they changed spellings and such.

  63. James -  April 7, 2011 - 1:54 pm


    I see what the problem is here. It’s that it takes sooooooo long for comments to actually get posted that, in the meantime, 15 other people type in the same comment you did, and none of them sees the other until they all spew out online and everyone looks like a humourless pedant. (No, that’s not what that means — look it up.) Anyway — the fact remains that no one can actually define exactly what this word is, spec. in relation to another relational nouns. Strange. Are we not on Dictionary.com? Or is this The Crepuscular Zone?

  64. Giz -  April 7, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Da Man!

  65. littlelinx -  April 7, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    Jeff: The bible is a very prominent object in our society. I am not saying I agree with it wholly, but don’t hate because you don’t understand something. Most of the stories in the bible are not fairy tales. The world will end in fire and ice is totally true. Already, if you look around you, the world is ending. Japan! Duh! And to the rest of you, I quite think the spelling for “humour” is just that. I live in England, that’s how its spelled here. But in America, I’ve heard its spelled as “humor” which makes no sense. Thanks for reading!

  66. Britney -  April 7, 2011 - 12:33 pm


  67. Britney -  April 7, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    @bronny: I’m afraid that your understanding of the changes of our language is terribly miguided. For one, humour was changed to humor waaay before texting was even an inkling of a concept. It has absolutely nothing to do with lazy texters and, therefore, cannont be considered a pre-cursor to the changes that our language is going through related to texting. The notion that the second u was removed from humour/humor out of laziness is just plain silly.

    Second of all, languages change. Period. If a language is split among two or more places, it will inevitably take two or more forms. The variables that shape a language rely on the conditions of place, among other things. Languages such as German, Spanish, English, and Italian all came out of the same language, Indo-European. As the people speaking them moved carrying their language further and further away from others speaking the same language, the variables changed. As a result, so did their language.

    The same idea can be applied to American/British English. It has been predicted that in something like twenty years—I’m not positive on the timeline; if someone knows, please correct me—American and British English will be so different that the speakers of the language from one country will not be able to understand the speakers of the language from the other country!

    @Bernadette: Thank you for your explanation involving Noah Webster. I had never heard all of that before. Very interesting and educational! Noah Webster was just one of the variables affecting American English and not British English—though his influence has had quite a large effect and long reach.

    @anyone who wants to correct me: I don’t care.

  68. sara -  April 7, 2011 - 12:12 pm

    slight comment to the people talking religion.
    some people are not christian, we are entitled to our beliefs so if you wish to convert us please try to be more like your dear Jesus.
    and on the other side the nonchristian people let us rememeber that those arguing religion are also entitled to their opinion, and let us respect it, even if we think it is horribly wrong.
    and rememeber people we were not there 2000 years ago so we can not know with 100% certainity what happened, we can think and believe with our wholeselves that we know what happened but we can not know.

    please remeber every body ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ is a good thing!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    MORON!!! just for an example

  69. MSB -  April 7, 2011 - 12:07 pm

    I have one for you :

    Divinely deluded!

  70. f_hampshire -  April 7, 2011 - 12:03 pm

    Hey “L”

    I am deeply interested in Theology. Now, for an interesting “thought experiment,” What does Jehovah call the snake when He curses him? The answer is “cattle.”
    Now: read Revelation 4:7

    Of course, everyone learned it was a “snake” in Sunday school.

    By the way, “hypocatastasis” is great! I learned something today!

  71. Andrew -  April 7, 2011 - 11:53 am

    1. Saying that the pronoun “you” is a noun is just nonsense.
    Further, -to say that “you” in the phrase “You are a rockstar” is an
    “object” is likewise devoid of meaning.
    3. A metaphor is NOT a comparison. If you have a comparison, i.e. when
    you use the word “as” or “like”, you have a “simile”.
    “My love is a rose” is a metaphor. “My love is like a rose” is a simile.
    2. Claiming that a metaphor always has two nouns or two compared units
    is equally nonsense.
    “That rust bucket of yours won’t fetch ten pounds” is a metaphor.
    A metaphor is an expression taken from one
    sphere and used in a different one. When a footballer “attacks” we have
    a phrase from military parlance used about sports. There aren’t
    two”nouns” here.
    When we talk about a table’s “legs”, we are using a metaphor, an
    expression taken from human anatomy and used about furniture.

  72. Jumman Surender -  April 7, 2011 - 11:00 am

    Great!!!! (For a extraordinary human)

  73. Ron Cronin -  April 7, 2011 - 10:39 am

    Love words but seriously when would you ever use ‘hypocatastasis’….fun but useless.

  74. carly -  April 7, 2011 - 10:03 am

    very confusing but whatever luv ya peeps!!!!!

  75. drake -  April 7, 2011 - 9:23 am


  76. cj -  April 7, 2011 - 9:22 am

    Ha Ha :)

  77. dru tribe -  April 7, 2011 - 9:06 am

    @Jeff you dont’ go hating on the bible. if u were me u would be yelling at me too.

  78. dru tribe -  April 7, 2011 - 9:04 am

    @Razimus- dude that means that jesus was a bronze serpent.

    p.s. im a pastors son, so i know

    God Bless all of you

  79. hal -  April 7, 2011 - 9:03 am


  80. TheOddStrange -  April 7, 2011 - 8:45 am

    Your name is spelled wrong! HA! I DID IT! I DID IT! HONK HONK!
    Now all i has to do is wait for about 15 other people to do the same!
    hee heee! CHIKIN BISKITZ!

  81. TheOddStrange -  April 7, 2011 - 8:39 am

    @the grammar/spellcheckers:
    Can I correct a bunch of people that have already been corrected a bunch of times, too? It sounds very fun.

  82. Mark Tucker -  April 7, 2011 - 8:32 am

    How come when I copied hypocatastasis into Dictionary.com it came up no results found? Did u mis spell it?

  83. the epicness that is me -  April 7, 2011 - 8:28 am

    Even as an american, i find it humourous that everyone is so hyped up about the spelling of humour.

  84. James -  April 7, 2011 - 8:10 am

    It’s not often that I say that I wish something were more humorless (or more humourless), but I have to say that is emphatically the case with this thread!
    It seems to me we might profit more from dwelling on the spell of humor rather than on its spellings.

    Anyway, what I am confused about is the actual usage of this word. The only example given suggests that this is a special metonymy used as something like akin to an interjection with overtones of command — “Foul troll, get the gone!” “Divine angel, be mine!”

    If it’s not that, as others have said, I don’t see how this differs from metonymy — and might suggest he writer revisit the words “hyperbole” and “catachresis” before penning another vague definition.

  85. inviting a handlename -  April 7, 2011 - 7:37 am

    Lucifer the Angel

  86. Karen -  April 7, 2011 - 7:34 am

    That little weasel pulled one over on me again.

  87. Karen -  April 7, 2011 - 7:31 am


  88. DJ -  April 7, 2011 - 7:15 am

    Has anyone ever noticed the word “devil” spelled backwards is lived.
    So, if a person lived their life backwards, could it be said (s)he
    was tempted by the devil. I’m just saying !

  89. wave walker -  April 7, 2011 - 7:14 am

    The Scripture DOES state that Satan is a serpent ( @L ):

    And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

    Further, the Book of Genesis is mythology only for those who aren’t able to perceive the truth; that is, those whom the serpent “deceiveth” (see also Job 12:16).


  90. Aeramir -  April 7, 2011 - 6:38 am


    You should’ve read Rev 12:9 where it says,

    “the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:”

  91. Kim -  April 7, 2011 - 6:24 am

    Sweet and beast are good.


    Needs to be like a metaphor–comparing two things. So Doh! or Awesome! don’t work, I believe.


    I think I have a food fetish, looking back at my offerings…

  92. Tom -  April 7, 2011 - 5:56 am

    John Wayne :”Stud”

  93. Dennis J. -  April 7, 2011 - 5:28 am

    Humour is spelled with a ‘u’ in every English speaking country with the exception of the United States. The original word being with the second “u” because the creators of the language put it there(not suggesting one person of course). There are a few words like this, another example being colour vs color.

  94. ccrow -  April 7, 2011 - 4:44 am

    If more people would read the comments before adding their own, I think there would be less redundancy…
    And I would also like to know why dictionary.com has no entry for this word.

  95. Tsuyoiko -  April 7, 2011 - 2:23 am

    Regarding the etymology, I think “down under standing still” refers to the object’s being out of sight and inactive. To understand the meaning in a case of hypocatastasis, one has to “read between the lines”.

  96. Themba -  April 7, 2011 - 12:22 am

    I don’t necessarily agree that hypocatastasis is “stronger” than a simile or metaphor. There are so many factors, subjective and in terms of literary-technique, which determine the level of excellence of an expression that I find it impossible to declare this or that form of speech superior… out of context! For example, I had become wary of the simile for a while but after having read plenty of Bolano lately, who employs extended, “surrealist” similes my enthusiasm for this form of speech has been reinvigorated.

  97. TSH -  April 7, 2011 - 12:13 am



  98. Cristobal Galan -  April 7, 2011 - 12:03 am

    Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein also uses this rhetorical device too when Dr. Frankenstein continually names his creation as “daemon” and “fiend”, while never explicitly saying that is his name…. right? Haha

  99. Zupa -  April 6, 2011 - 11:33 pm


    Etymologies do not necessarily explain the definition of a word. They may just state what the affixes and roots in it meant originally, making no reference to its modern sense or usage.

  100. Bernadette -  April 6, 2011 - 11:04 pm

    @bronny: Oh, bronny, sweetheart. It wasn’t laziness, at all. Besides, I find that the laziness of which you speak plagues countries on both sides of the pond. As for the spelling difference, it was Noah Webster who decided to change it (I bet you or someone you know has a dictionary with his name on it). He didn’t change the spelling out of laziness either. He was a teacher during a time when most schools in the US were overcrowded and the schoolbooks came from England. He wanted American children to learn from American books. He didn’t much like the English pronounciation of words, complaining that the language had been corrupted by the English aristocracy. He felt that the general public should control the path a language takes. He also thought that explaining complex ideas into their simplest components helped children learn better. Hence, the spelling simplification of certain words or adjusting the spelling to more closely reflect American pronounciation. Some didn’t catch on (“tongue” to “tung”), fortunately. But the series of schoolbooks he wrote were so popular that we’re still arguing about it 228 years later!

    @Anonling, @nalini: Oh, I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one! I find it so very, very odd that Dictionary.com lacks an entry for the word about which they are writing!

  101. Ray Shell -  April 6, 2011 - 10:02 pm

    Wow. Figurative language: Dumbo! Yeah, I’ll get an A+ for using that :p

  102. ness -  April 6, 2011 - 9:16 pm

    @ Jacob
    It would only be a British variation if the word was originally taken from America to Britain then changed. Therefore humor is an American variation of humour

  103. A! -  April 6, 2011 - 9:02 pm

    @The Doktor

    Jacob was talking about the second u in “humour”

  104. William -  April 6, 2011 - 8:54 pm

    Razimus: the serpent was signifying the cross, on which all our sins were put, and the cross is used in crucifixion which is the slow death of someone for all to see.

    so, yeah, serpents are not good

  105. T -  April 6, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    I should not have read the comments, but after seeing the confusion in identifying words as one overlylongword or another, I’m glad I did.

  106. bronny -  April 6, 2011 - 8:36 pm

    abandoning the original thread entirely – regarding humour/humor – didn’t the English written word come before the US written word? Therefore, dropping the second ‘U’ in humour is just basic laziness?
    A pre-cursor to today’s modern Text-messaging perhaps?

  107. meetmeat -  April 6, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    Where did this conversation of humor/humour come about?

  108. maddie -  April 6, 2011 - 8:26 pm


  109. Timothy -  April 6, 2011 - 8:18 pm


  110. radical mouse -  April 6, 2011 - 7:40 pm


  111. Pot Smoking Monkey -  April 6, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    @ L – It never says the serpent is Satan, but is is used to symbolize Satan. That is why it is used as an example here, because it does not use both nouns of Satan and Serpent, but rather just Serpent.

  112. nalini -  April 6, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    People, this is awesome but somehow I’m now more confused than ever between synecdoche and metonymy and now epithet??

    Somebody, please simplify all three?

    Many thanks!

  113. Stu -  April 6, 2011 - 6:50 pm

    Aren’t some of these one word metaphors, such as “BRASS” for police, also examples of metonymy?

  114. Stu -  April 6, 2011 - 6:48 pm


  115. Beachbum -  April 6, 2011 - 6:46 pm


  116. Emi -  April 6, 2011 - 6:40 pm

    Humour does indeed have 2 ‘u’s.

    Only Americans felt the need to change it.

  117. Francisco -  April 6, 2011 - 6:36 pm

    @Frank N. De Bois L says the Genesis resembles mythology, not that it IS a myth. I, on the other hand, DO say that the whole Bible is a collection of myths, some of which are based on historical events. The story of Eve and the serpent is clearly completely fictional, though.

  118. Anonling -  April 6, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    How is “hypocatastasis” pronounced? None of my dictionaries have this information out the couple that even had an entry for this word. Also, what is its adjectival form? A quick Google search reveals a few hundred results for “hypocatastic”, but far fewer for the seemingly more logically formed (given the etymology) “hypocatastatic”. Could you Dictionary.com folk please provide more insight into the historical usage of this word and its variant derived forms?

  119. FJH -  April 6, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    Actually, the Bible does call Satan, serpent. In the Book of Revelation, chapter 20 verses 2 and 3 state, “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it up and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.”

  120. Chaucer -  April 6, 2011 - 5:58 pm

    I can’t believe everyone is still harping on the extra “u” in the British spelling of humor. Brits also spell toward as towards and defense as defence. Alexander has been corrected- let’s move on.

    I think we need a better distinction between metonymy and hypocatastasis.

  121. anonimous -  April 6, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    y u all hatn’ on dictionary.com?

  122. ontoursecretly -  April 6, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    What makes this interesting (to me) and confusing (to debate) is the tendency of English-speakers to turn nouns into verbs (“Google” “conference” “beer me, bro” etc) and the great number of verbs in our vocabulary that are also nouns (“run” “move” “kiss” etc).

  123. La'Quishana -  April 6, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    How about: Beast!

  124. Jeff -  April 6, 2011 - 5:26 pm


  125. Jeff -  April 6, 2011 - 5:26 pm

    Let’s not discuss these Bible fairly tales anymore. It bores me. Can we get a different example please?

  126. AusTastic -  April 6, 2011 - 5:11 pm

    @daniel cartwright
    Humour is also spelt with the second U in Australia. Just Saying.

    “Legen…. dary”

  127. YoMama -  April 6, 2011 - 4:50 pm

    really cool, don’t mean to be a nerd Bp

  128. Jennie -  April 6, 2011 - 4:36 pm

    Sheesh, I don’t know if this is an example of hypocatastasis but after reading all the comments, my contribution simply must be: Nitpickers! ;)

  129. Jaki -  April 6, 2011 - 4:30 pm

    I’m pretty sure those with a New York dialect use this quite often. When telling a friend a story about something that happened to them involving people, they can refer to a person by using a noun or adjective instead of their name, for easier following if the story involves a few people: “…and then Hercules over here asked if I needed help carrying my dry cleaning! It was only two items!” or something of the sort. I hear it most commonly used on Seinfeld.

  130. Alex -  April 6, 2011 - 4:14 pm

    Wow…it seems like every other person feels the need to correct the previous people’s grammar when about ten people have already done so. :P

    As to the article:
    Interesting roots. It doesn’t seem like it would be, but is hypocatastasis acceptable in formal writing (assuming the reader is aware of the other noun in the comparison)?

  131. ANA -  April 6, 2011 - 3:35 pm


  132. wordjunkie -  April 6, 2011 - 3:27 pm

    I am learning all kinds of new words today.

  133. daniel cartwright -  April 6, 2011 - 3:18 pm

    Alexander, humor has a second ‘u’ only in England. The developers of this site are American, hence the spelling.

  134. lahtida -  April 6, 2011 - 3:10 pm

    Alexander, you’re on dictionary.com! Why don’t you try looking the word up before you make an a#@ out of yourself!!!

  135. Dude -  April 6, 2011 - 3:07 pm


  136. Lauren -  April 6, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    I must show this to my English teacher. This is much more interesting than what we are “learning” right now.

  137. Jacquelyn -  April 6, 2011 - 2:32 pm

    Interestingly, the word “Satan” would also qualify as a hypocatastasis. Contrary to modern assumptions, “Satan” is not a name at all but meant “adversary” or “accuser” in the original Hebrew. The being being referenced is Lucifer, the fallen angel. (See Isaiah 14:12-15, which goes along with Ezekiel 28:13-15.) Therefore, even though it has come to be used as a name, “Satan” is actually another hypocatastasis along with devil, dragon, serpent, and other referents used throughout the Scriptures for this being.

  138. Razimus -  April 6, 2011 - 2:30 pm

    Speaking of serpent, it isn’t all bad, Jesus is symbolized as a serpent in the verse a few before the famous John 3:16, check it out, the brass ‘brazen’ serpent Moses held up was a type and shadow, a fortelling of Jesus on the cross, thus the serpent represented Jesus, making serpents not all bad, I like serpents :)

  139. dino-piggy -  April 6, 2011 - 2:10 pm

    This part is interesting: Hypo is derived from the Greek “under,” cata comes from the Ancient Greek kata, meaning “down from, or down to,’ and stasis is Greek for “standing still.”

  140. name -  April 6, 2011 - 2:02 pm

    Epithet. Epithet is a describer added to or substituted for a name.

  141. JJ Rousseau -  April 6, 2011 - 1:46 pm

    Monsieur. According to Doc Samuel.

  142. Ismary -  April 6, 2011 - 1:39 pm


  143. Holly -  April 6, 2011 - 1:17 pm

    @zpad: The examples you gave made me think of synecdoche, in which the part represents the whole. Would that be what you’re thinking of?

  144. Firefly -  April 6, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    @ zpad:
    Yes, that’s called a synecdoche; substituting the part of a unit for the whole, or the whole for a part.

    The bible doesn’t say that the serpent is Satan, but it does imply that Satan possessed or used the serpent to cause Eve to sin.

  145. erhan -  April 6, 2011 - 1:12 pm


  146. Vehicle -  April 6, 2011 - 1:11 pm

    Calling a newspaper “press” or calling the police “brass” are metonymies. Why is hypocatastasis not in your dictionary?

  147. Frank N. DeBois -  April 6, 2011 - 1:11 pm

    @ L, Satan IS referred to as the ‘old serpent’ among other things in
    Rev 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.”
    And you will find out soon enough that your supposed ‘teachers’ told you a lie when they convinced you that it is all just a ‘myth’. I feel sorry for your being tricked like that.

  148. Skudd -  April 6, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    @Meagan Unlike “you’re”, which is the same in every English dialect, which means you still stand to learn a few things about the English language no matter where you’re from.

  149. Blake Snow -  April 6, 2011 - 12:55 pm

    “Friend!” said in hostility towards another, like the twins from Ocean’s 11.

  150. Maddy M. -  April 6, 2011 - 12:36 pm

    I gotta show my teacher this! New writing rule!

    Sorry, Mrs. A, I have got to show my teacher this!

  151. The Doktor -  April 6, 2011 - 12:32 pm

    @Alexander: It’s spelled “humor” in American English. “Humor” is ALSO spelled with a “u.”
    @Meagan: It’s “you’re” not “your.”
    @Jacob: Your point is clear, but “humor” and “humour” without the “u” spell “hmor”, which to my knowlege is not a word, and would therefore NOT be acceptable. (:

  152. Chad -  April 6, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Humor without a u is “hmor.”

  153. Julinda -  April 6, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Actually, “you” is a pronoun, not a noun. But I’m excited about learning this new word (hypocatastasis)!!

  154. tpw -  April 6, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    Referring to newspapers as “press” is an example of metonymy. (One for the whole.)

    The appelation “brass” (or “copper”) for the police is termed synecdoche. (Substituion of something.) It is pronouned sin-eck-duh-key.

    Hypocatastasis? UGLY!

  155. OLH064 -  April 6, 2011 - 12:23 pm

    “Loser says what” may be a good example of this; whoever says “what” was called a loser. This isn’t the best example though, because loser can be used as an adjective too.

  156. Anonymous Bob -  April 6, 2011 - 12:12 pm

    @Jill Anneken
    Big Brother also refers to 1984′s Europe-Africa warlord leader.
    “Big Brother is watching you” is the full reference, ergo hypocatastis (intentional hypocatastis there).

  157. Chrissie -  April 6, 2011 - 12:02 pm



  158. Beveryl -  April 6, 2011 - 11:56 am

    @ Meagan – *you’re*

  159. Paco -  April 6, 2011 - 11:51 am


  160. L -  April 6, 2011 - 11:36 am

    Actually, the Bible doesn’t ever state that the serpent is Satan. It says that the serpent is the craftiest/most subtle of the animals God created and it tells her to eat the fruit (which, coincidentally, is never referred to as an apple). And afterward God specifically curses the serpent to eat dust. A snake creating original sin may seem far-fetched, but in the context of Genesis, which resembles mythology as a whole, it makes sense.

  161. zpad -  April 6, 2011 - 11:23 am

    isn’t this just calling newspaper “press” or calling the police “brass” ? isn’t there another word for what this is?

  162. Jacob -  April 6, 2011 - 11:17 am

    @ALexander- That would be the British variation on the word. In American English, Humor without a u is acceptable.

  163. Meagan -  April 6, 2011 - 11:13 am

    only if your Canadian.

  164. A.E -  April 6, 2011 - 11:09 am


    If you’re British.

  165. John -  April 6, 2011 - 11:08 am

    I often call Corey a Jerk. But when I call Corey a Jerk I don’t say Corey You Are a Jerk. I just say Jerk.

  166. Colleen -  April 6, 2011 - 11:07 am

    So “down under standing still” means “one word that implies a comparison in a powerful way”?

    Seems like there’s something missing in this etymology.

  167. Jill Anneken -  April 6, 2011 - 11:03 am

    I would think that ‘Big Brother is watching’ from 1984 by George Orwell would be a prime example of hypocatastasis. The phrase implies so much by the usage of Big Brother; not only is it used as a reference for the government, but also for your friends, family and neighbors. Big brother is traditionally used as a symbol of someone that looks out for you and that helps guide you towards right decisions, but its use in 1984 twists its meaning to someone that has complete control.

  168. Tom -  April 6, 2011 - 11:02 am

    @Alexander: Yes, it does. One U if using the American spelling and two U’s if using the English spelling. ; ]

  169. Alexander -  April 6, 2011 - 10:48 am

    Humour has a ‘u’ in it.

  170. ddk -  April 6, 2011 - 10:45 am


  171. Graham -  April 6, 2011 - 10:25 am



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