Home Grammar Metonymy: The right way to Use This Literary Machine

Metonymy: The right way to Use This Literary Machine

Metonymy: The right way to Use This Literary Machine


One mark of a superb author is their skill to maintain issues temporary. Why spend phrases on easy explanations, when these phrases may very well be higher used creating vivid imagery or arising with intelligent puns? An important device for protecting issues fast and clear, with out sacrificing depth, is metonymy. Metonymy is a determine of speech that replaces one phrase with one other, intently associated, phrase.

What’s metonymy?

Metonymy (pronounced meh-TAH-nuh-mee) is outlined as a determine of speech during which one phrase is substituted for an additional phrase that it’s intently related to. An occasion of metonymy is typically referred to as a metonym. Some frequent examples of metonymy that you simply’ll hear in on a regular basis speech are:

Dish as an alternative choice to a complete plate of meals.

Hand as an alternative choice to help.

Tongue as an alternative choice to language.

Metonymy additionally happens continuously when locations turn into intently related to an business or exercise. For instance, “Wall Avenue” is commonly a stand-in for the monetary business, “Silicon Valley” is an alternative choice to the tech business, and “Washington” pertains to something having to do with the American authorities.

Why do writers use metonymy?

Metonymy can improve your writing by creating new imagery, making phrases extra highly effective, and conveying a fancy concept or emotion in a extra concise method.

Creating imagery

By substituting one factor for an additional, you possibly can deliver a complete bunch of vivid associations together with it. For instance, the phrase fits as metonymy for businesspeople could add a component of seriousness and authority to them, or in one other context it could downplay their stature by lowering them to their clothes.

Including depth

Metonymy can add deeper which means or complexity to a easy phrase alternative. For instance, the crown is commonly used as metonymy for the king or queen in a monarchy. That phrase, like the church, signifies a bigger system or custom.

Making it concise

As a normal rule of thumb in writing, in the event you can say it extra concisely, it’s best to. Metonymy helps you chop down on wordy explanations by counting on a phrase’s associations and connotations.

Metonymy vs. synecdoche

Metonymy and synecdoche each exchange one phrase with one other, intently associated, phrase. The distinction is that with metonymy the alternative could be any associated phrase, whereas with synecdoche, the alternative should be a selected half or portion. (Typically, synecdoche does the reverse and represents the entire with an element.) For instance, the phrase “lend me a hand” is an instance of synecdoche as a result of a hand is a portion of the physique that may provide help. Some individuals think about synecdoche a subcategory of metonymy since they’re so intently associated.

Metonymy vs. metaphor

Each metonymy and metaphor use the substitution of 1 phrase for an additional. Nevertheless, metonymy makes use of a phrase or phrase with a transparent reference to its substitute. In a metaphor, the author compares two not like objects in an effort to draw out uncommon or imaginative similarities.

Metonymy examples in literature

“Associates, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. —William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Marc Antony makes use of ears as metonymy for consideration or listening.

“The likelihood can be that he and his shipmates would by no means once more bear in mind it, on account of all arms gently subsiding to the underside. —Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Palms right here is used as metonymy to symbolize all the males on the ship.

“As I drift again into sleep, I can’t assist considering that it’s an exquisite factor to be proper in regards to the world. —Richard Russo, Straight Man

The world is metonymy for a selected fragment of the world—on this case, no matter is understood to Russo’s narrator. That is additionally an instance of synecdoche, substituting the entire for the half.

“When the press is absent, politicians have been identified to cancel their speeches, civil rights marchers to postpone their parades, alarmists to withhold their dire predictions.” —Homosexual Talese, The Kingdom and the Energy

The press is commonly used to indicate both a gaggle of journalists or the whole media business.

Metonymy FAQs

What’s metonymy?

Metonymy is a determine of speech during which a phrase is substituted for an additional phrase that it’s intently related to. For instance, “the White Home” is commonly used as a metonymy for the presidential administration.

How is metonymy completely different from metaphor and synecdoche?

All three literary units use affiliation between two completely different phrases. Metaphors give the reader a brand new sense of one thing by relating two not like objects. Synecdoche is sort of the identical as metonymy, but it surely particularly substitutes an element for the entire (or, much less continuously, the entire for an element).

What’s the goal of metonymy?

Metonymy is frequent in our on a regular basis speech as a result of it makes broad ideas briefer. It may be utilized by writers to create new imagery, add energy to writing, and make difficult concepts extra concise.