However, unlike a metaphor—which enacts a lexical transfer by establishing the equivalence of two terms—catachresis performs its transfers in the face of a missing term, thus without anchoring its meaning in the logic of equivalence.
The catachrestic borrowing of terms occurs under the pressure of necessity : when a proper term is lacking, or when the existing term does not fit literally to the intended description.
“This instrument [TV] can teach; it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it's nothing but wires and lights in a box.”
“I recently listened to a thoughtful big city [police] chief express his frustration with [the] lack of reliable data. He said he didn't know whether the Ferguson police shot one person a week, one a year, or one a century, and that in the absence of good data (quote), 'all we get are ideological thunderbolts, when what we need are ideological agnostics who use information to try to solve problems.' He's right.”