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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Definition and Examples of Metonymy: Literary Device


Tags: metonymy definition, metonymy examples, metonymy vs synecdoche, synecdoche vs metonymy, Literary Terms, figure of speech, Literary Device,

Definition and Examples of Metonymy: Literary Device 

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A FIGURE OF SPEECH that substitutes the name of a related object, person, or idea for the subject at hand. Crown is often substituted for monarchy, the White House for the President of the United States and the staff, and Shakespeare for the works of Shakespeare. Metonymy should not be confused with SYNECDOCHE, a substitution of a part of something for the whole or the whole for a part.

Metonymy from Penguin Dictionary:

Metonymy (Gk 'name change') A figure of speech in which the name of an attribute or a thing is substituted for the thing itself. Common examples are 'The Stage' for the theatrical profession; 'The Crown' for the monarchy; 'The Bench' for the judiciary; 'Dante' for his  works. See also ANTONOMASIA; METALEPSIS; SYNECDOCHE. 

Metonymy from Oxford Dictionary:

metonymy [met-on-imi], a FIGURE OF SPEECH that replaces the name of one thing with the name of something else closely associated with it,  e.g. the bottle for an alcoholic drink, the press for journalism, skirt for woman,  Mozart for Mozart's music, the Oval Office for the US presidency. A  well-known metonymic saying is the pen is mightier than the sword (i.e. writing is more powerful than warfare). A word used in such metonymic expressions is sometimes called a metonym [met-6nim]. An important kind of metonymy is SYNECDOCHE, in which the name of a part is substituted for that of a whole (e.g. hand for worker), or vice versa.  Modern literary theory has often used 'metonymy' in a wider sense,  to designate the process of association by which metonymies are produced and understood: this involves establishing relationships of contiguity between two things, whereas METAPHOR establishes relationships of similarity between them. The metonym/metaphor distinction has been associated with the contrast between *SYNTAGM  and PARADIGM. See also antonomasia. 

Metonymy from the glossary of English Language

Metonymy (Greek for “a change of name”)

The literal term for one thing is applied to another with which it has become closely associated because of a recurrent relation in common experience. Thus “the crown” or “the scepter” can be used to stand for a king and “Hollywood” for the film industry; “Milton” can signify the writings of Milton (“I have read all of Milton”); and typical attire can signify the male and female sexes: “doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat” (Shakespeare, As You Like It, II. iv. 6). (For the influential distinction by the linguist Roman Jakobson between the metaphoric, or “vertical,” and the metonymic, or “horizontal,” dimension, in application to many aspects of the functioning of language, see under linguistics in literary criticism.)

In synecdoche (Greek for “taking together”), a part of something is used to signify the whole, or (more rarely) the whole is used to signify a part. We use the term “ten hands” for ten workers, or “a hundred sails” for ships and, in current slang, “wheels” to stand for an automobile. By a bold use of the figure, Milton describes the corrupt and greedy clergy in “Lycidas” as “blind mouths.”


Tags: metonymy definition, metonymy examples, metonymy vs synecdoche, synecdoche vs metonymy, Literary Terms, figure of speech, Literary Device,

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