Metonymy

Figures of speech are literary devices which are used to convey ideas that go beyond their literal meaning.

In English, there are more than 200 different types of figures of speech. Metonymy is one of them.

Metonymy

Metonymy Meaning


A metonymy is a figure of speech in which two things are referred to by the same name because they are closely related or occur frequently together. Because the word being used to describe another is not a part of it, it should not be mistaken with a synecdoche.

  • Europe has opened its doors to immigrants. (‘Europe‘ is the metonymy for the European government or the people of Europe.)
  • The court has issued a summon. (‘The court‘ is the metonymy for the judge.)

Metonymy Examples


The pen is mightier than the sword,”
Edward Bulwer Lytton, Richelieu
(The ‘pen‘ stands for the intelligent and educated, while the sword stands for the brawny.)

“as doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat
—Shakespeare, As You Like It
(The words ‘doublet and hose‘ represent masculinity and ‘petticoat‘ represents ‘femininity‘.)

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears
—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
(The word ‘ears‘ represents ‘attention‘.)

“As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling.”
—Robert Frost, Out, Out
(The word ‘life‘ represents blood.)


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