Hypallage (pronounced 'high-PAL-i-dgi', IPA: /haɪ ˈpæl ə (or ɪ) dʒɪ/) is a Figure of Speech recorded in various classical works of rhetoric and so on. It is hardly necessary these days. It is akin to the transferred epithet, which is a more useful term; it is sometimes used rather more like metonymy. Hypallage is strictly the label for the use of language where one form of description is applied to a different part of a sentence from the part where it would usually be expected. These include cases where an adverb or adjective showing emotion is applied to a tool or weapon rather than to the human who uses it: "He sent his cruel arrow through the deer's side", or "The stars shall weep for his misfortunes" are examples.
When Macbeth looks at the blood on his hands and says, in Shakespeare's tragedy,
- This is a sorry sight.
and Lady Macbeth answers:
- A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
she might be talking about the hypallage he has just used.
Etymological note: The English word hypallage is a transliteration of the Greek ὑπαλλαγή (hupallagē), ‘interchange, exchange’, a noun from the verb ὑπαλλάττειν (hupallattein), ‘to exchange’. The Greek ὑπαλλαγή, as well as having a number of non-technical uses, was used by ancient grammarians to mean the same as metonymy.