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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 ?
One might ask why this high extent of rhetoricity and figuration is there in the representation of the Queen, why the signifying chain is extended to such a length by the metonymies of the body.
Several myths were created from the original expression "IMF" when associated with other concurrent events and ideas through metonymies.
The following is a selection of instances of verbal physiological metonymies and conceptual metaphors for EMOTIONS ARE/STAND FOR TEMPERATURE from various sources, but mostly from Kovecses (1986) and Lakoff (1987).
Again, such structural metonymies display the temporal complexities of Canada's participation in the Great War: both premature and belated, if you will, the youthful nation growing up in service of an ageing empire, romanticizing indigenes while also extinguishing them.
Genette's essay on metonymy in Proust, with its shift from the discussion of 'le role de la metonymie dans la metaphore' to the closing description of the origin of the Proustian recit 'par la metaphore, mais dans la metonymie' is highly suggestive.
However, the subtext here about jokes and stinking cabbages under God's nose implies an integration of anality in an otherwise pristine text; the fact that Jim and Arvay have a "battle which raged and roiled" suggests that passion (in some form) has erupted from the discussion of anal metonymies in bed.
This is a discourse which, through an unrestricted amplification of metaphor coupled with an unregulated flow of metonymies, multiplies the attributes of characterization and setting, while preventing the unfolding of a linear, forward-moving plot.
They inevitably get transformed into nonverbal metonymies in accordance with the situations in which they are embedded and in which they have participated.
His apprehension of some alternative and unnameable energy brings his metonymies to challenge their own directional, propagandistic contiguities; people, their characters formed in some secret place, seem as much to create or to alter their surroundings as to be created or altered by them.
Centered around extended metonymies representing human condition and situations, the poems are centered around living or mythical creatures such as carp and the chupacabras (literally, "goatsucker," a diabolical night creature).
Over time this primacy of the body was superseded by that of objects, which Valldosera used as metonymies for per sons and also as signs of their obsessions, fantasies, and neuroses.
Fragmented things become metonymies for Clare, and since Clare is a version of Irene, they represent Irene herself, even when she is consciously performing the fragmentation.