Metonymy Definition, Types, Examples, and How to Use

20 May 2023 / Team Fun English Course

Are you looking for a metonymy definition?

This is one of the words that people might never have heard of. But, you might be surprised if we say that you probably often use it in daily conversation.

Yup, metonymy was that kind of word.

In this article, we will discuss what metonymy definition is, types, examples, and how to use it. Let’s get started.

What is Metonymy?

Metonymy is a fancy word that means using something related to represent something else. 

For example, if we say “The Hollywood was blown,” we’re not talking about the area itself, but rather the film industry of America. Got it?

This figure of speech is a way to make writing or speaking more interesting and meaningful. It can help us express complex ideas or emotions simply and clearly. You might have used metonymy without even realizing it!

Types of Metonymy

There are some categories of metonymy. You don’t need to memorize them, but they’ll make it easier to understand.

Here are the types and metonymy examples:

Types of Metonymy

Metonymy Based on Contiguity 

This is when the metonym (the word) is physically or spatially related to the original concept.

For example:

  • “The White House” for the US president (because the US president stays in the White House.).
  • “The Stage” for the theater or acting (because the stage is a place where people act in the theater.)

Metonymy Based on Causality

This is when the metonym is a cause or an effect of the original concept.

For example:

  • “The pen” for writing or literature (because writing or literature is a result/effect of using a pen.)
  • “The sword” for war or violence (because the sword can cause war or violence.).

Metonymy Based on Substitution

This is when the metonym is a substitute or a representative of the original concept.

For example:

  • “The flag” for the nation or patriotism (because the country’s flag can represent the nation in a simpler way.)
  • “The crown” for the king or queen or monarchy (because the crown can symbolize a king, queen, or monarchy in a simpler way.)

Metonymy Based on Association

This is when the metonym is associated with the original concept by culture, history, or tradition.

“The rose” for love or romance (because it’s easy to associate a rose with love and affection.)

“The cross” for Christianity or religion (because people have associated the cross with Christianity since long ago.).

Metonymy vs Synecdoche

Metonymy and synecdoche involve substituting one word or phrase for another. However, they do so in different ways.

Metonymy uses a related word or phrase to represent another word or phrase, while synecdoche uses a part to represent the whole.

For example, using the ring to represent the marriage is a metonymy, whereas using the head to represent the person is a synecdoche.

Metonymy vs Synecdoche

How to Use Metonymy?

After you understand what metonymy is and its examples, it’s time to learn how to use it.

Here are the tips:

  1. Experiment with different words or phrases to see if they add depth or meaning to your writing. For example, try replacing “the teacher” with “the knowledge keeper.”
  2. Don’t overuse metonymy, or it can become distracting. Use it sparingly and when it adds value to your writing.
  3. Use metonymy to make your writing more interesting and engaging for your reader. For example, instead of saying “the city council passed a law,” you could say “the city decided to change the rules.”

Now, you know what metonymy definition is, types, examples, and how to use it. Let’s practice together in our class: Fun English Course. Here you can learn English in a funny and satisfying way.

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