Definition of metonymy in English:



  • [mass noun] The substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant, for example suit for business executive, or the turf for horse racing.

    • ‘If metaphor established a Burkean epistemology (perspectival knowledge), metonymy establishes language as the foundation of that epistemology.’
    • ‘I use the expression ‘all mouth and no trousers’ to introduce my sixth-formers to the distinction between synecdoche and metonymy.’
    • ‘In the one there was much talk of the unconscious, of the underlying grammar of myths, of metaphor and metonymy, contradictions, resolutions, transformations and obviations.’
    • ‘These strong probabilities are structured according to our notions of the way the world works-notions that arc mediated by cognitive tools such as narrative, metaphor, and metonymy.’
    • ‘There is a typology of rhetorical figures of speech made up of four tropes, they in turn govern the way we operate language: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony.’
    • ‘In A Grammar of Motives he describes metonymy as a trope of reduction, that is, a term obliterates or erases certain specificities of an object or event to reduce it to a commonality.’
    • ‘Like words, they signify things beyond themselves by means of linguistic devices such as metaphor and metonymy.’
    • ‘These objects fueled a desire for knowledge and possession, although most often through the symbolic operations of metaphor and metonymy.’
    • ‘But at least as many clues can be found in a culture's use of metaphor and metonymy based on X to name other things, its words from X.’
    • ‘The cool universe of digitality has absorbed the world of metaphor and metonymy.’
    • ‘The metonymic process depends on the substitution, in a sequence, of a series of metonymies for the novel's totalizing metaphor, with each metonymy representing a repetition of the novel's metaphor.’
    • ‘Allegory cuts across metaphor and metonymy, the image is both fragment and performs a figurative function.’
    • ‘What one misses in the discussion of divination as metaphor, metonymy, semantic privilege, and etiological discourse is how it relates to real individuals and specific occasions where actual ritual implements are utilized.’
    • ‘Shortly before this he distinguishes Donne ‘the master of metaphor’ from Jonson ‘the poet of metonymy for whom listing not yoking is at the core of his ethical vision’.’
    • ‘Traditional and cognitive rhetorics differ most markedly in their approach to metaphor, metonymy, and other figures.’
    • ‘Although Burke's conventional definition of synecdoche (a part for the whole) sounds strikingly similar to metonymy, it functions for him as a corrective to metonymical excess.’
    • ‘Another characteristic of the semantics of slang is the tendency to name things indirectly and figuratively, especially through metaphor, metonymy, and irony.’
    • ‘The piece foregrounds the poetic tension between metaphor and metonymy which, I have argued elsewhere, exist in each other.’
    • ‘He or she may have heard of alliteration, onomatopoeia, metonymy, synecdoche, and chiasmus.’
    • ‘To do this, he mediates through symbols, metaphors, allegories and metonymy to transmute his experiences of the phenomenal world.’
    simile, metaphor, metonymy
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek metōnumia, literally change of name.