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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 ?
Since the number of objects named must always be limited, even in Dickens's expansive descriptions, those objects function metonymically to indicate others in their vicinity.
In the speech he continuously underlines his own story, which serves, metaphorically and metonymically, as a template for all people's stories and gives new meaning to his opening line, in (9).
Part of the difference between the two pairs of languages can be attributed to the fact that English and German metonymically used place names that function as subjects often find their counterparts in adpositional phrases in Hungarian, as in (4), and in prepositional phrases Croatian, as shown in (5).
The rhythm and moisture of "breath" of line 2 is metonymically related both to "sway" and to "sea" in line 3, while "bread" and "strand" are similarly related by their more solid dryness.
Isn't the excessive attachment to objects a crucial theme in novels like Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, where objects are metonymically linked to detritus and dust?
The second is to make explicit how this meaning is embodied in the work, which is to show a woman covered over with chocolate metonymically transformed as shit.
Unlike the currently fashionable braggadocio of the work of Quentin Tarantino that metonymically celebrates the violent ejaculations of the American male, Podeswa investigates the actual uncertainty of (largely male) sexuality.
In this poem, appearances, as perceived by all good people - admired characters, minstrel, and audience - are truthful and are to be read metonymically.
Harold Pinter's name would soon supply the byword for an unsettling interplay of directness and evasion that came to define a whole new approach the theatre, while John Osborne and Shelagh Delaney wrote plays whose titles--Look Back in Anger, A Taste of Honey--have passed into common parlance to define metonymically an era, genre and attitude: the 'angry young man', the 'kitchen sink drama'.
To metonymically remind the noble couple of this arrangement, Juan gives a physical object to the Duchess.
The eye-closing action in the metaphoric source domain is metonymically expanded onto a situation in which a person closes his eyes in order to ignore a problem or situation.
To account for the construal of the metonymically or metaphorically-conditioned sense developments the authors come up with specific cognitive formula which help to explicate the relevant conceptual processes.