Figures of Speech - Metonymy

What is metonymy?

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept.


Here are some examples of metonymy:

  • Crown. (For the power of a king.)
  • The White House. (Referring to the American administration.)
  • Dish. (To refer an entire plate of food.)
  • The Pentagon. (For the Department of Defense and the offices of the U.S. Armed Forces.)
  • Pen. (For the written word.)
  • Sword - (For military force.)
  • Hollywood. (For US Cinema.)
  • Hand. (For help.)

Consider this quote which is a metonymic adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy:

"The pen is mightier than the sword."

More figures of speech