Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated, as in the use of Washington for the United States government or of the sword for military power.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The use of a single characteristic or name of an object to identify an entire object or related object.
  • n. A metonym.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A trope in which one word is put for another that suggests it

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In rhetoric, change of name; a trope or figure of speech that consists in substituting the name of one thing for that of another to which the former bears a known and close relation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in `they counted heads')

Etymologies

Late Latin metōnymia, from Greek metōnumiā : meta-, meta- + onuma, name; see nŏ̄-men- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin metonymia, from Ancient Greek μετονομασία (metōnumia, "change of name"), from μετά (meta, "other") + ὄνομα (onoma, "name"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Not all figuration is metaphoric though; in metonymy, the process of interpretation is not based on resemblances but on other forms of association -- the association of a crown with a king, for example, such that we use the artefact as a metonymic stand-in for the person.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • Hope, by a metonymy, is put for the thing hoped for, namely, heaven and the felicities thereof, called emphatically that hope, because it is the great thing we look and long and wait for; and a blessed hope, because, when attained, we shall be completely happy for ever.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • "metonymy" is a blind, mutilated metonymy — in fact, more of a catachresis than a metonymy.

    Discontinuous Shifts: History Reading History

  • By a well-known figure of speech, called metonymy, we use a word denoting the means by which we accomplish anything to denote the end accomplished; we exercise care over anything by means of foresight, and indicate that care by the word foresight.

    Conversion of a High Priest into a Christian Worker

  • The technique that McCloud uses in the second panel is called metonymy -- creating the meaning for something by showing a related thing.

    COMIXTALK

  • The news media like to employ a figure of speech called metonymy and regularly claim to have received statements from streets and buildings.

    New Statesman

  • Privy and closet are examples of euphemism by metonymy, which is the substitution of the name of an attribute of a thing for the thing itself: a toilet is a private place, therefore a privy.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XIX No 4

  • Throughout, the metaphor of brother against brother is a kind of metonymy for civil butchery in which family members slaughter one another in a grim contest of reciprocity.

    Shakespeare

  • [FN#8] A manner of metonymy, meaning that he rested his cheek upon his right hand.

    Arabian nights. English

  • A Rose Is a Rose (Ralph), 2006, is less with the formal progression of the medium than with extrapolations of the embedded spirituality in earlier Abstract Expressionism, in this case by way of the concept of "metonymy" posited by Aboriginal cultures of her native

    artforum.com

Comments

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  • I'm very impressed so posted on my blog...

    April 24, 2012

  • "de de, dedede... metonymy de de de de.... metonymy de de, dedede, dedede, dedede, dedede dede de de dede de!"

    December 31, 2007

  • "Get yer butt over here for the Powder Puff Derby, Herbie!"

    August 11, 2007

  • Such an important word in contemporary Continental thought.

    December 9, 2006