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Metonymy () is a
figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that intentionally deviates from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetorical effect. Figures of speech are traditionally classified into ''scheme (linguistics), schemes,'' whi ...
in which a concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept.


Etymology

The words ''metonymy'' and ''metonym'' come from grc, μετωνυμία, 'a change of name', from , 'after, post, beyond' and , , a suffix that names figures of speech, from , or , 'name'.


Background

Metonymy and related figures of speech are common in everyday speech and writing.
Synecdoche Synecdoche ( ) is a type of metonymy: it is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something is used to refer to the whole (''pars pro toto''), or vice versa (''totum pro parte''). The term comes from Greek language, Greek . Example ...
and metalepsis are considered specific types of metonymy.
Polysemy Polysemy ( or ; ) is the capacity for a Sign (semiotics), sign (e.g. a symbol, a morpheme, a word, or a phrase) to have multiple related meanings. For example, a word can have several word senses. Polysemy is distinct from ''monosemy'', where a ...
, the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, sometimes results from relations of metonymy. Both metonymy and
metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech that, for rhetorical effect, directly refers to one thing by mentioning another. It may provide (or obscure) clarity or identify hidden similarities between two different ideas. Metaphors are often compared with ...
involve the substitution of one term for another. In metaphor, this substitution is based on some specific
analogy Analogy (from Greek language, Greek ''analogia'', "proportion", from ''ana-'' "upon, according to" lso "against", "anew"+ ''logos'' "ratio" lso "word, speech, reckoning" is a cognition, cognitive process of transferring information or Mean ...
between two things, whereas in metonymy the substitution is based on some understood association or
contiguity Contiguity or contiguous may refer to: *Contiguous data storage, in computer science *Contiguity (probability theory) *Contiguity (psychology) *Contiguous distribution of species, in biogeography *Geographic contiguity of territorial land *Contigu ...
. American literary theorist Kenneth Burke considers metonymy as one of four "master tropes":
metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech that, for rhetorical effect, directly refers to one thing by mentioning another. It may provide (or obscure) clarity or identify hidden similarities between two different ideas. Metaphors are often compared with ...
, metonymy,
synecdoche Synecdoche ( ) is a type of metonymy: it is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something is used to refer to the whole (''pars pro toto''), or vice versa (''totum pro parte''). The term comes from Greek language, Greek . Example ...
, and
irony Irony (), in its broadest sense, is the juxtaposition of what on the surface appears to be the case and what is actually the case or to be expected; it is an important rhetorical device and literary technique. Irony can be categorized int ...
. He discusses them in particular ways in his book '' A Grammar of Motives''. Whereas
Roman Jakobson Roman Osipovich Jakobson (russian: Рома́н О́сипович Якобсо́н; October 11, 1896Kucera, Henry. 1983. "Roman Jakobson." ''Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America'' 59(4): 871–883. – July 18,dichotomy A dichotomy is a partition of a set, partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets). In other words, this couple of parts must be * jointly exhaustive: everything must belong to one part or the other, and * mutually exclusive: nothing ...
in trope was between metaphor and metonymy, Burke argues that the fundamental dichotomy is between irony and synecdoche, which he also describes as the dichotomy between dialectic and representation, or again between reduction and perspective. In addition to its use in everyday speech, metonymy is a figure of speech in some
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
and in much
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
. Greek and Latin scholars of rhetoric made significant contributions to the study of metonymy.


Meaning relationships

Metonymy takes many different forms.
Synecdoche Synecdoche ( ) is a type of metonymy: it is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something is used to refer to the whole (''pars pro toto''), or vice versa (''totum pro parte''). The term comes from Greek language, Greek . Example ...
uses a part to refer to the whole, or the whole to refer to the part. Metalepsis uses a familiar word or a phrase in a new context. For example, "lead foot" may describe a fast driver; lead is heavy, and a heavy foot on the accelerator causes a vehicle to go fast. The figure of speech is a "metonymy of a metonymy". Many cases of
polysemy Polysemy ( or ; ) is the capacity for a Sign (semiotics), sign (e.g. a symbol, a morpheme, a word, or a phrase) to have multiple related meanings. For example, a word can have several word senses. Polysemy is distinct from ''monosemy'', where a ...
originate as metonyms: for example "chicken" meaning the meat as well as the animal; "crown" for the object, as well as the institution.


Metaphor and metonymy

Metonymy works by the
contiguity Contiguity or contiguous may refer to: *Contiguous data storage, in computer science *Contiguity (probability theory) *Contiguity (psychology) *Contiguous distribution of species, in biogeography *Geographic contiguity of territorial land *Contigu ...
(association) between two concepts, whereas the term "metaphor" is based upon their analogous similarity. When people use metonymy, they do not typically wish to transfer qualities from one referent to another as they do with metaphor. There is nothing press-like about reporters or crown-like about a monarch, but "the press" and "the crown" are both common metonyms. Some uses of figurative language may be understood as both metonymy and metaphor; for example, the relationship between "a crown" and a "king" could be interpreted metaphorically (i.e., the king, like his gold crown, could be seemingly stiff yet ultimately malleable, over-ornate, and consistently immobile). However, in the phrase "lands belonging to the crown", the word "crown" is definitely a metonymy. The reason is that monarchs by and large indeed wear a crown, physically. In other words, there is a pre-existent link between "crown" and "monarchy". On the other hand, when
Ghil'ad Zuckermann Ghil'ad Zuckermann ( he, גלעד צוקרמן, ; ) is an Israeli-born language revitalization, language revivalist and linguistics, linguist who works in Language contact, contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and i ...
argues that the Israeli language is a "phoenicuckoo cross with some magpie characteristics", he is definitely using metaphors. There is no physical link between a language and a bird. The reason the metaphors "phoenix" and "cuckoo" are used is that on the one hand hybridic "Israeli" is based on
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
, which, like a phoenix, rises from the ashes; and on the other hand, hybridic "Israeli" is based on
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashke ...
, which like a cuckoo, lays its egg in the nest of another bird, tricking it to believe that it is its own egg. Furthermore, the metaphor "magpie" is employed because, according to Zuckermann, hybridic "Israeli" displays the characteristics of a magpie, "stealing" from languages such as
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...
and English. Two examples using the term "fishing" help clarify the distinction. The phrase "to fish pearls" uses metonymy, drawing from "fishing" the idea of taking things from the ocean. What is carried across from "fishing fish" to "fishing pearls" is the domain of metonymy. In contrast, the metaphorical phrase "fishing for information" transfers the concept of fishing into a new domain. If someone is "fishing" for information, we do not imagine that the person is anywhere near the ocean; rather, we transpose elements of the action of fishing (waiting, hoping to catch something that cannot be seen, probing) into a new domain (a conversation). Thus, metaphor works by presenting a target set of meanings and using them to suggest a similarity between items, actions, or events in two domains, whereas metonymy calls up or references a specific domain (here, removing items from the sea). Sometimes, metaphor and metonymy may both be at work in the same figure of speech, or one could interpret a phrase metaphorically or metonymically. For example, the phrase " lend me your ear" could be analyzed in a number of ways. One could imagine the following interpretations: *Analyze "ear" metonymically first – "ear" means "attention" (because people use ears to pay attention to each other's speech). Now, when we hear the phrase "Talk to him; you have his ear", it symbolizes he will listen to you or that he will pay attention to you. Another phrase "lending an ear (attention)", we stretch the base meaning of "lend" (to let someone borrow an object) to include the "lending" of non-material things (attention), but, beyond this slight extension of the verb, no metaphor is at work. *Imagine the whole phrase literally – imagine that the speaker literally borrows the listener's ear as a physical object (and the person's head with it). Then the speaker has temporary possession of the listener's ear, so the listener has granted the speaker temporary control over what the listener hears. The phrase "lend me your ear" is interpreted to metaphorically mean that the speaker wants the listener to grant the speaker temporary control over what the listener hears. *First, analyze the
verb phrase In linguistics, a verb phrase (VP) is a syntax, syntactic unit composed of a verb and its argument (linguistics), arguments except the subject (grammar), subject of an independent clause or coordinate clause. Thus, in the sentence ''A fat man quic ...
"lend me your ear" metaphorically to mean "turn your ear in my direction," since it is known that, literally lending a body part is nonsensical. Then, analyze the motion of ears metonymically – we associate "turning ears" with "paying attention," which is what the speaker wants the listeners to do. It is difficult to say which analysis above most closely represents the way a listener interprets the expression, and it is possible that different listeners analyse the phrase in different ways, or even in different ways at different times. Regardless, all three analyses yield the same interpretation. Thus, metaphor and metonymy, though different in their mechanism, work together seamlessly.


Examples

Here are some broad kinds of relationships where metonymy is frequently used: *Containment: When one thing contains another, it can frequently be used metonymically, as when "dish" is used to refer not to a plate but to the food it contains, or as when the name of a building is used to refer to the entity it contains, as when "the
White House The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. preside ...
" or "
the Pentagon The Pentagon is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense. It was constructed on an accelerated schedule during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, w ...
" are used to refer to the Administration of the United States, or the U.S. Department of Defense, respectively. *A physical item, place, or body part used to refer to a related concept, such as "the bench" for the judicial profession, "stomach" or "belly" for appetite or hunger, "mouth" for speech, being "in diapers" for infancy, "palate" for taste, "the altar" or "the aisle" for marriage, "hand" for someone's responsibility for something ("he had a hand in it"), "head" or "brain" for mind or intelligence, or "nose" for concern about someone else's affairs, (as in "keep your nose out of my business"). A reference to
Timbuktu Timbuktu ( ; french: Tombouctou; Koyra Chiini: ); tmh, label=Tuareg languages, Tuareg, script=Tfng, ⵜⵏⴱⴾⵜ, Tin Buqt a city in Mali, situated north of the Niger River. The town is the capital of the Tombouctou Region, one of the eig ...
, as in "from here to Timbuktu," usually means a place or idea is too far away or mysterious. Metonymy of objects or body parts for concepts is common in dreams. *Tools/instruments: Often a tool is used to signify the job it does or the person who does the job, as in the phrase "his Rolodex is long and valuable" (referring to the Rolodex instrument, which keeps contact business cards, meaning he has a lot of contacts and knows many people). Also "the press" (referring to the printing press), or as in the proverb, "The pen is mightier than the sword." *Product for process: This is a type of metonymy where the product of the activity stands for the activity itself. For example, in "The book is moving right along," ''the book'' refers to the process of writing or publishing. *Punctuation marks often stand metonymically for a meaning expressed by the punctuation mark. For example, "He's a big ''question mark'' to me" indicates that something is unknown. In the same way, 'period' can be used to emphasise that a point is concluded or not to be challenged. *
Synecdoche Synecdoche ( ) is a type of metonymy: it is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something is used to refer to the whole (''pars pro toto''), or vice versa (''totum pro parte''). The term comes from Greek language, Greek . Example ...
: A part of something is often used for the whole, as when people refer to "head" of cattle or assistants are referred to as "hands." An example of this is the
Canadian dollar The Canadian dollar (currency symbol, symbol: Dollar sign, $; ISO 4217, code: CAD; french: dollar canadien) is the currency of Canada. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, there is no standard disambiguating form, but the abbreviation Can ...
, referred to as the
loonie The loonie (french: huard), formally the Canadian one-dollar coin, is a gold-coloured Coins of the Canadian dollar, Canadian coin that was introduced in 1987 and is produced by the Royal Canadian Mint at its facility in Winnipeg. The most prev ...
for the image of a bird on the one-dollar coin. United States one hundred-dollar bills are often referred to as "Bens", "Benjamins" or "Franklins" because they bear a portrait of
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was an American polymath who was active as a writer, scientist, Invention, inventor, Statesman (politician), statesman, diplomat, printer (publishing), printer, publisher, and Political philosophy, politi ...
. Also, the whole of something is used for a part, as when people refer to a municipal employee as "the city" or police officers as "the law". *
Toponym Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of '' toponyms'' ( proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names), including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a proper name o ...
s: A country's
capital city A capital city or capital is the municipality holding primary status in a country, state, province, Department (country subdivision), department, or other subnational entity, usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a city ...
or some location within the city is frequently used as a metonym for the country's government, such as Washington, D.C., in the United States;
Ottawa Ottawa (, ; Canadian French: ) is the capital city A capital city or capital is the municipality holding primary status in a country, state, province, Department (country subdivision), department, or other subnational entity, usually as i ...
in Canada;
Tokyo Tokyo (; ja, 東京, , ), officially the Tokyo Metropolis ( ja, 東京都, label=none, ), is the capital and List of cities in Japan, largest city of Japan. Formerly known as Edo, its metropolitan area () is the most populous in the world, ...
in
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north ...
;
New Delhi New Delhi (, , ''Naī Dillī'') is the Capital city, capital of India and a part of the NCT Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT). New Delhi is the seat of all three branches of the government of India, hosting the Rashtrapati B ...
in India;
Downing Street Downing Street is a street in City of Westminster, Westminster in London that houses the official residences and offices of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Situated off Whitehall, it is long, and ...
(often shortened to " Number 10") or
Whitehall Whitehall is a road and area in the City of Westminster, Central London. The road forms the first part of the A roads in Zone 3 of the Great Britain numbering scheme, A3212 road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea, London, Chelsea. It is the main ...
in the United Kingdom; and the
Kremlin The Kremlin ( rus, Московский Кремль, r=Moskovskiy Kreml', p=ˈmɐˈskofskʲɪj krʲemlʲ, t=Moscow Kremlin) is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow founded by the Rurik dynasty, Rurik dynasty. It is the best known of th ...
in Russia. Similarly, other important places, such as
Wall Street Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District, Manhattan, Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It runs between Broadway (Manhattan), Broadway in the west to South Street (Manhattan), South Street and ...
,
Madison Avenue Madison Avenue is a north-south avenue in the borough (New York City), borough of Manhattan in New York City, United States, that carries northbound one-way traffic. It runs from Madison Square (at 23rd Street (Manhattan), 23rd Street) to meet ...
,
Silicon Valley Silicon Valley is a region in Northern California that serves as a global center for high technology and innovation. Located in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, it corresponds roughly to the geographical areas San Mateo County, ...
,
Hollywood Hollywood usually refers to: * Hollywood, Los Angeles, a neighborhood in California * Hollywood, a metonym for the cinema of the United States Hollywood may also refer to: Places United States * Hollywood District (disambiguation) * Hollywood, ...
, Vegas, and
Detroit Detroit ( , ; , ) is the List of municipalities in Michigan, largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is also the largest U.S. city on the Canada–United States border, United States–Canada border, and the County seat, seat of gov ...
are commonly used to refer to the industries that are located there (
finance Finance is the study and discipline of money, currency and capital assets. It is related to, but not synonymous with economics, the study of Production (economics), production, Distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics) ...
,
advertising Advertising is the practice and techniques employed to bring attention to a product or service. Advertising aims to put a product or service in the spotlight in hopes of drawing it attention from consumers. It is typically used to promote a ...
,
high tech High technology (high tech), also known as advanced technology (advanced tech) or exotechnology, is technology that is at the state of the art, cutting edge: the highest form of technology available. It can be defined as either the most complex ...
nology,
entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousa ...
,
gambling Gambling (also known as betting or gaming) is the wagering of something of Value (economics), value ("the stakes") on a Event (probability theory), random event with the intent of winning something else of value, where instances of strategy (ga ...
, and
motor vehicles A motor vehicle, also known as motorized vehicle or automotive vehicle, is a self-propelled land vehicle, commonly wheeled, that does not operate on Track (rail transport), rails (such as trains or trams) and is used for the transportation of pe ...
, respectively). Such usage may persist even when the industries in question have moved elsewhere, for example, ''
Fleet Street Fleet Street is a major street mostly in the City of London. It runs west to east from Temple Bar, London, Temple Bar at the boundary with the City of Westminster to Ludgate Circus at the site of the London Wall and the River Fleet from which ...
'' continues to be used as a metonymy for the British national press, though many national publications are no longer headquartered on the street of that name.


Places and institutions

A place is often used as a metonym for a government or other official institutions, for example,
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Bruss ...
for the
institutions of the European Union The institutions of the European Union are the seven principal decision-making bodies of the European Union and the Euratom. They are, as listed in Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union: * the European Parliament, * the European Council ...
,
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a list of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of the Netherlands, situated on the west coast facing the North Sea. The Hague is the country's ad ...
for the
International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice (ICJ; french: Cour internationale de justice, links=no; ), sometimes known as the World Court, is one of the United Nations System#Six principal organs, six principal organs of the United Nations (UN). It s ...
or
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization and International court, international tribunal seated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to pro ...
,
Nairobi Nairobi ( ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Kenya. The name is derived from the Maasai language, Maasai phrase ''Enkare Nairobi'', which translates to "place of cool waters", a reference to the Nairobi River which flows throug ...
for the government of Kenya, the
White House The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. preside ...
and Capitol Hill for the executive and legislative branches, respectively, of the United States federal government, or
Foggy Bottom Foggy Bottom is one of the oldest late 18th- and 19th-century neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., located west of the White House and downtown Washington, in the Washington, D.C. (northwest), Northwest quadrant. It is bounded roughly by 17th St ...
for the U.S. State Department. Other names of addresses or locations can become convenient shorthand names in
international diplomacy Diplomacy comprises spoken or written communication by representatives of states (such as leaders and diplomats) intended to influence events in the international system.Ronald Peter Barston, ''Modern diplomacy'', Pearson Education, 2006, p. 1 ...
, allowing commentators and insiders to refer impersonally and succinctly to foreign ministries with impressive and imposing names as (for example) the Quai d'Orsay, the
Wilhelmstrasse Wilhelmstrasse (german: Wilhelmstraße, see ß) is a major thoroughfare in the central Mitte (locality), Mitte and Kreuzberg districts of Berlin, Germany. Until 1945, it was recognised as the centre of the government, first of the Kingdom of Pru ...
, the
Kremlin The Kremlin ( rus, Московский Кремль, r=Moskovskiy Kreml', p=ˈmɐˈskofskʲɪj krʲemlʲ, t=Moscow Kremlin) is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow founded by the Rurik dynasty, Rurik dynasty. It is the best known of th ...
or the Porte. A place (or places) can represent an entire industry: for instance,
Wall Street Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District, Manhattan, Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It runs between Broadway (Manhattan), Broadway in the west to South Street (Manhattan), South Street and ...
, used metonymically, can stand for the entire U.S. financial and corporate banking sector and Hollywood - for the U.S. film industry and the people associated with it. The
High Street High Street is a common street name for the primary business street of a city, town, or village, especially in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Br ...
(of which there are over 5,000 in Britain) is a term commonly used to refer to the entire British retail sector. Common nouns and phrases can also be metonyms: "
red tape Red tape is an idiom An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a Literal and figurative language, figurative, non-literal meaning (linguistic), meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while r ...
" can stand for
bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () refers to a body of non-elected governing officials as well as to an administrative policy-making group. Historically, a bureaucracy was a government administration managed by departments staffed with non-elected offi ...
, whether or not that bureaucracy uses actual red tape to bind documents. In
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonwealt ...
s,
The Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...
is a metonym for the state in all its aspects. In recent Israeli usage, the term "Balfour" came to refer to the Israeli Prime Minister's residence, located on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, to all the streets around it where demonstrations frequently take place, and also to the Prime Minister and his family who live in the residence.


Rhetoric in ancient history

Western culture image:Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg, Leonardo da Vinci's ''Vitruvian Man''. Based on the correlations of ideal Body proportions, human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise '' ...
studied poetic language and deemed it to be
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
. A. Al-Sharafi supports this concept in his book ''Textual Metonymy'', "Greek rhetorical scholarship at one time became entirely poetic scholarship."
Philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Suc ...
s and rhetoricians thought that metaphors were the primary figurative language used in rhetoric. Metaphors served as a better means to attract the audience's attention because the audience had to read between the lines in order to get an understanding of what the speaker was trying to say. Others did not think of metonymy as a good rhetorical method because metonymy did not involve symbolism. Al-Sharafi explains, "This is why they undermined practical and purely referential discourse because it was seen as banal and not containing anything new, strange or shocking." Greek scholars contributed to the definition of metonymy. For example, Isocrates worked to define the difference between poetic language and non-poetic language by saying that, "Prose writers are handicapped in this regard because their discourse has to conform to the forms and terms used by the citizens and to those arguments which are precise and relevant to the subject-matter." In other words, Isocrates proposes here that metaphor is a distinctive feature of poetic language because it conveys the experience of the world afresh and provides a kind of defamiliarisation in the way the citizens perceive the world.
Democritus Democritus (; el, Δημόκριτος, ''Dēmókritos'', meaning "chosen of the people"; – ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient ...
described metonymy by saying, "Metonymy, that is the fact that words and meaning change."
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
discussed different definitions of metaphor, regarding one type as what we know to be metonymy today. Latin scholars also had an influence on metonymy. The treatise '' Rhetorica ad Herennium'' states metonymy as, "the figure which draws from an object closely akin or associated an expression suggesting the object meant, but not called by its own name." The author describes the process of metonymy to us saying that we first figure out what a word means. We then figure out that word's relationship with other words. We understand and then call the word by a name that it is associated with. "Perceived as such then metonymy will be a figure of speech in which there is a process of abstracting a relation of proximity between two words to the extent that one will be used in place of another."
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and Academic skepticism, academic skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...
viewed metonymy as more of a stylish rhetorical method and described it as being based on words, but motivated by style.


Jakobson, structuralism and realism

Metonymy became important in French
structuralism In sociology Sociology is a social science that focuses on society, human social behavior, patterns of Interpersonal ties, social relationships, social interaction, and aspects of culture associated with everyday life. It uses various meth ...
through the work of
Roman Jakobson Roman Osipovich Jakobson (russian: Рома́н О́сипович Якобсо́н; October 11, 1896Kucera, Henry. 1983. "Roman Jakobson." ''Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America'' 59(4): 871–883. – July 18,yntagmaticcombination and to the literary practice of realism. He explains:
The primacy of the metaphoric process in the literary schools of Romanticism and symbolism has been repeatedly acknowledged, but it is still insufficiently realized that it is the predominance of metonymy which underlies and actually predetermines the so-called 'realistic' trend, which belongs to an intermediary stage between the decline of Romanticism and the rise of symbolism and is opposed to both. Following the path of contiguous relationships, the realistic author metonymically digresses from the plot to the atmosphere and from the characters to the setting in space and time. He is fond of synecdochic details. In the scene of Anna Karenina's suicide Tolstoy's artistic attention is focused on the heroine's handbag; and in ''
War and Peace ''War and Peace'' (russian: Война и мир, translit=Voyna i mir; Reforms of Russian orthography, pre-reform Russian: ; ) is a literary work by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy that mixes fictional narrative with chapters on history and phil ...
'' the synecdoches "hair on the upper lip" or "bare shoulders" are used by the same writer to stand for the female characters to whom these features belong.
Jakobson's theories were important for
Claude Lévi-Strauss Claude Lévi-Strauss (, ; 28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009) was a French anthropologist and ethnologist whose work was key in the development of the theories of structuralism and structural anthropology. He held the chair of Social An ...
,
Roland Barthes Roland Gérard Barthes (; ; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French people, French literary theory, literary theorist, essayist, philosopher, critic, and Semiotics, semiotician. His work engaged in the analysis of a variety of sign sys ...
,
Jacques Lacan Jacques Marie Émile Lacan (, , ; 13 April 1901 – 9 September 1981) was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Described as "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Sigmund Freud, Freud", Lacan gave The Seminars of Jacques Lacan, yearl ...
, and others. Dreams can use metonyms.


Metonyms and art

Metonyms can also be wordless. For example,
Roman Jakobson Roman Osipovich Jakobson (russian: Рома́н О́сипович Якобсо́н; October 11, 1896Kucera, Henry. 1983. "Roman Jakobson." ''Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America'' 59(4): 871–883. – July 18,Lakoff and Turner argued that all words are metonyms: "Words stand for the concepts they express." Some artists have used actual words as metonyms in their paintings. For example, Miró's 1925 painting "Photo: This is the Color of My Dreams" has the word "photo" to represent the image of his dreams. This painting comes from a series of paintings called peintures-poésies (paintings-poems) which reflect Miró's interest in dreams and the subconsciousRowell, M. (1976) ''Joan Miró: Peinture – Poésie.'' Paris: Éditions de la différence. and the relationship of words, images, and thoughts.
Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and Scenic design, theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. One of the most influential artists of the 20th ce ...
, in his 1911 painting "Pipe Rack and Still Life on Table" inserts the word "Ocean" rather than painting an ocean: These paintings by Miró and Picasso are, in a sense, the reverse of a
rebus A rebus () is a puzzle device that combines the use of illustrated pictures with individual letters to depict words or phrases. For example: the word "been" might be depicted by a rebus showing an illustrated bumblebee next to a plus sign (+) ...
: the word stands for the picture, instead of the picture standing for the word.


See also

*
-onym The suffix ''-onym'' (from grc, ὄνυμα / name) is a bound morpheme, that is attached to the end of a root word, thus forming a new compound word that designates a particular ''class'' of names. In linguistic terminology, compound words that ...
* Antonomasia * Deferred reference * Eggcorn *
Eponym An eponym is a person, a place, or a thing after whom or which someone or something is, or is believed to be, named. The adjectives which are derived from the word eponym include ''eponymous'' and ''eponymic''. Usage of the word The term ''epon ...
* Enthymeme *
Euphemism A euphemism () is an innocuous word or expression used in place of one that is deemed Profanity, offensive or suggests something unpleasant. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others use bland, inoffensive terms for concepts that the us ...
by comparison * Generic trademark * Kenning * List of metonyms * Meronymy * Newspeak * Pars pro toto * Simile * Slang * Sobriquet * Social stereotype * Totum pro parte


References


Citations


Sources

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Further reading

* * * * * * * {{Authority control Metonymy, Figures of speech Narrative techniques Rhetorical techniques Semantics Tropes by type