Synecdoche Definition, Types, Examples, and Meaning

30 May 2023 / Team Fun English Course

Are you looking for a synecdoche definition?

It’s one of those words that might be unfamiliar to you. However, you’ll be amazed to learn that you actually use it quite frequently in your everyday conversations. 

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

What is Synecdoche?

Synecdoche is when you use a part of something to stand for the whole thing, or the other way around.

For example, you can say, “All hands on deck” to show that you need everyone’s help available, not literally their hands only.

On the other hand, you also could say. “I was interviewed by the New York Times.” Even though only a journalist interviewed you, not literally all journalists in the New York Times.

Both sentences are synecdoche examples.

Why is Synecdoche Important?

Synecdoche is a powerful way of using words, because it can help you imagine things better, focus on what matters, or make things easier to understand. 

Here are some reasons why:

  • Synecdoche can create vivid images by using concrete or familiar parts to represent abstract or complex wholes. 
  • It also can emphasize important aspects by using parts that stand out or have special meaning to represent wholes that have many parts. 
  • Synecdoche can simplify complex ideas by using parts that are easy to understand or relate to represent whole that are hard to grasp.

For example, when you say “The world is watching”, you don’t mean the whole planet, but the people who live on it. This makes the idea more exciting.

Why is Synecdoche Important

Types and Examples of Synecdoche

In practice, you might encounter several styles of synecdoche. There are four main types of synecdoche based on how the part and the whole are related. 

Here they are:

Part for Whole

This is when you use a smaller or simpler part to stand for a bigger or more complex whole. 

It’s like when you say “I like your wheels”, while what you mean is “I like your car”. Wheels are a part of a car, but they can stand for the whole car.

Part for Whole

Whole for Part

This is when you use a bigger or more general whole to stand for a smaller or more specific part. 

For instance, when you say “the world is against me”, you mean “some people are against me”. The world is a whole that has many parts, but it can stand for some parts.

Species for Genus

This is when you use a specific or concrete type of something to stand for a general or abstract category of something. 

It’s like when you say “he is Shakespeare” to call someone who is a genius in writing. Shakespeare is a specific type of writer, but he can stand for the general category of writers.

Species for Genus

Genus for Species

This is when you use a general or abstract category of something to stand for a specific or concrete type of something. 

For instance, when you say “she is a creature”, you mean “she is a human”. Creature is a general category that includes many types of living things, but it can stand for the specific type of human.

Synecdoche vs Metonymy

Both synecdoche and metonymy use one word or phrase to represent another. However, there are slight differences.

Synecdoche uses a part to represent the whole, or vice versa. Meanwhile, metonymy uses a related word or phrase to represent another word or phrase.


  • “The crown” to represent a king, queen, or monarchy, is a metonymy.
  • “The mouth” to represent a person to feed, is a synecdoche.

Now you have learned what synecdoche definition is, its concept and examples. Synecdoche can make your words more amusing and interesting. Try it yourself. Join in our Fun English Course and let’s have fun with English.

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