This article argues that the catachrestic usage of “affection” to mean “affectation” in Shakespearean drama may be best understood with reference to Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria, which employs catachresis in using the existing Latin word adfectatio to render the Greek word κακόζηλον [cacozēlon]. Quintilian’s influential picture of the all-encompassing rhetorical vice of adfectatio, his catachrestic practice, and his descriptions of catachresis as both a necessary extension of the meaning of an existing word and a poetic device, appear to have influenced Shakespeare’s portrayal of some of his most complex and articulate characters, among them Hamlet and Leontes (of The Winter’s Tale). Through these characters and their catachrestic speeches, we are forced to contend with the possibility that their “affections” may be nothing more (or less) than “affectations.”

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