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What is metonymy?



Here are two senses for metonymy:

  1. Metonymy is, broadly defined, a trope in which one entity is used to stand for another associated entity.
  2. Metonymy is, more specifically, a replacive relationship that is the basis for a number of conventional metonymic expressions occurring in ordinary language.
Examples (English)
  • The pen is mightier than the sword.

    Pen and sword represent publishing and military force, respectively.

  • The following examples illustrate the controller-for-controlled metonymy:

    • Nixon bombed Hanoi.

      Nixon stands for the armed forces that Nixon controlled.

    • A Mercedes rear-ended me.

      The word me stands for the car that the speaker was driving.


Lakoff, G. and Johnson 1980 38

  Here are some kinds of metonymies:
  Metonymy is a kind of

Lakoff, G. and Johnson 1980 35–36, 38


Mish 1991 748


Beekman and Callow 1974 116

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