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(mĭtŏn`əmē), figure of speech in which an attribute of a thing or something closely related to it is substituted for the thing itself. Thus, "sweat" can mean "hard labor," and "Capitol Hill" represents the U.S. Congress.


the substitution of a word referring to an attribute of a thing for the thing itself, e. the ‘crown’ to refer to the monarch. The role of metonymy in social life is a topic especially in SEMIOLOGY. See also METAPHOR, SYMBOL.



(1) A trope based on the principle of contiguity. Like metaphor, metonymy is possible because a word may have a double or multiple meaning. Thus, in the phrase “I ate three plates” (I. A. Krylov), the word “plate” simultaneously denotes two phenomena—the food and the dish. In metonymy, as in metaphor, the direct meaning of a word is superimposed on its referential meaning. However, in metonymy the two components are joined by relationships of contiguity rather than of similarity.

In metonymy the phenomena forming an “object pair” may be related to each other in a number of ways. For example, they may be whole and part (the synecdoche “Hey, you—beard! How do we get to Pliushkin’s from here?” N. V. Gogol), object and material (“He ate not on silver, but on gold,” A. S. Griboedov), or content and container (“The stoked stove crackles,” A. S. Pushkin). They may also be characteristic and characterized (“Boldness conquers cities”) or creation and creator (“The muzhik . . . will bring Belinskii and Gogol home from the market,” N. A. Nekrasov).

The artistic features of metonymy depend on the author, the culture, and the literary style. (Mythological metonymy is found in works by classical writers, who, for example, used the name of the god Mars to refer to war.)

(2) The term “metonymy” is also used to designate the use of a word in its secondary meaning, when it is related to the primary meaning by the principle of contiguity. For example, “crystal has gone on sale” and “crystal is glass containing lead oxide.” Because this phenonenon is characterized not by “renaming” but by simple naming (nomination), by a single level of meaning, and by the absence of imagistic effect, it is more correct to call it metonymization.


References in periodicals archive ?
If the poppy is metonymically associated with the British through its colour ('Her gown a shamrock green, her cloak a poppy red', Twelfth, p.
And yet, if this is the case, what becomes striking about the poem is that Foscolo moves away from the home: he undertakes an imaginary voyage to his homeland, and arrives there only to begin moving metonymically away by the first quatrain.
Throughout much of this sequence, to be sure, the camera works to dismember, isolate, and dissect the servants' bodies, reducing them metonymically to their "functional" parts.
The arrival of the hawk on the window sill "distracts" the window--or, metonymically, the person inside the window, which now becomes Levertov, distracted from her quest for eternity by the bird that darkens her window, blotting out the view.
To metonymically remind the noble couple of this arrangement, Juan gives a physical object to the Duchess.
Finally, the trope of clothing, so useful for interpreting the modernism it metonymically evokes, illuminates an understanding of a denaturalized body as shaped by its socially configured status.
Amman and Naga Devata film posters depict women heaving under the burden of a cruel family, which through the presence of their other, the powerful goddess, is metonymically set right within the poster space itself.
This desire appears to have been articulated metonymically.
The superpositional or even allegorical dimension uncovered in this manner enhances the symbolic potential of the novel as a whole, dense as it is with objects that display manifold figurative references: the knotted creatures made by Bruno, metonymically replaying Oskar's trial (e.
Named after the horse-racing course founded in 1711 by Queen Anne of England (Introduction), which now hosts events mostly known to non-devotees of horseracing for their display of outlandish hats, Ascot has aspirations to live up to the echoes of opulence associated with the imperial Whiteness metonymically linked with his name.
The film's plot is simple enough: On the night of a full moon, at a Swiss chateau from whose gate hangs a sign insisting PASSAGE INTERDIT, a command the camera immediately ignores (anticipating the opening shot of Citizen Kane), two douroucouli monkeys escape from their owners, both of whom are represented metonymically almost exclusively by hands, feet, and shadows.
Organic form is a metaphor, operating metonymically.