Metonymy is a rhetorical figure that consists of replacing a word or idea with another with which it is closely related. It is a literary figure very close to metaphor, which we use very frequently in our daily lives. Metonymy with its types and examples
“Daniel is where Juan ” ( Juan’s house), “Dame un tinto ” (a red wine), “My headache arrived (the person or thing that causes me discomfort), are examples of different forms of metonymy.
If you pay attention you will see that at every moment you use metonymies both at home and at school, and also when you are playing with your friends:
When you ask for a book by its brand or the name of the author (“Can you pass me the Larousse ?”, Instead of “Can you pass me the dictionary?”); “Take a shower ” (for “go shower”), or “I want to be a forward” (for “I want to play in the forward position”). Metonymy with its types and examples
Metonymy, metaphor and synecdoche
Metonymy has a very close relationship with metaphor (which also consists of replacing one word with another), and some authors even consider metonymy a kind of metaphor.
Perhaps the difference is in the closeness of the words: in the case of metonymy there must be a relationship, while the metaphor can associate completely different meanings.
For example, saying “You are the light of my life” is a metaphor, not a metonymy, because between light and life the differences in meaning are very great.
More common is confusion with the synecdoche, another trope or figure of speech where a part encompasses the meaning of a whole. For example: ” Paris does not agree with the treaty”, referring to France, or “In this house there are too many mouths to feed”, to speak of people.
It is also considered as synecdoche when an individual represents the species or gender, as in ” today’s woman “, to refer to women in general, or when the whole expresses a part, as in ” Ecuador can reach the semifinal” , to refer to the Ecuadorian sports team.
As in the case of metaphors, currently some authors include the synecdoche in the concept of metonymy.
Types of metonymy
The meanings that move, and that are defined as metonymy, can be given in various ways: the effect replaces the cause, the symbol to the symbolized object, the content to the container, the colors of the flag or the uniform to the team name or to the country, instrument by function, etc.
1-Effect for cause
You replace the effect with the cause, as in “Mario is an earthquake ” (he causes a lot of disorder, he moves a lot, and that’s why he is called an earthquake).
2-Cause by effect
It happens when you replace the cause with the effect: “Open the window so that the cool can come in ” (the cool is the effect of the wind).
3-Parts for the whole
It is when you replace parts of something with the meaning of the whole that they make up: “You have four pairs of hands ” (it refers to the help of four people).
4-All for the parts
The replacement here occurs when a global concept is used to refer to a part of it, as in: ” France and Spain will play the final” (France and Spain replace the sports teams of both countries).
5-The species by genus
When you use an individual to refer to an entire species or genus: “The elephant is on the way to extinction” (the species).
6-Symbol by symbolized object
When the representation replaces the represented: “They are peoples of the crescent ” (the crescent is the symbol of Islam, and is used by “Muslim peoples”). Metonymy with its types and examples
7-Container by content
It is when to refer to the content, an allusion is made to what it contains: “They met to chat and have a few drinks (drink liquor).
8-Content per container
When the meaning moves to the object it contains: “We are going to eat a grill ” (the grill is the device where meat is cooked in a certain way, they are going to eat grilled meat).
9-The place of origin for the object
When the place of origin gives the product its name: “ Parmesan is added to the pasta ” (Parma cheese).
10-Trade name of the product for the product
The individual brand replaces the generic name of the product: “Buy a Gillette , but let it be Shift” (Gillette is a producer of both razors and blades, and in many Hispanic countries the brand replaced the product).
11-The matter for the object
The matter of which the object is made replaces the name of the object: “Draw your sword, you will test my steel !” (steel replaces sword).
12-The author for the work
The name of the author replaces the title of the work: “In the Museum of Modern Art there is a Degas ” (for “there is a work of the painter Edgar Degas”). Metonymy with its types and examples
13-The instrument by the operator
The profession or trade is replaced by the instrument that characterizes it: “Manuel is the best scalpel at the Hospital de Clínicas” (for surgeon).
Examples of metonymy
Below you can see several examples of metonymy:
- Today the albiceleste and Germany (the Argentine team, for the colors of the uniform and the flag of this country: white and blue; and the German team) face each other.
- Francisco in that race is going for the gold (for the gold medal).
- My mother fixed our clothes with her Singer (by sewing machine).
- His canvases are dark, macabre (his paintings).
- This Sunday they play Bach and Vivaldi (music by Bach and Vivaldi).
- They have all their faith in the cross (for Christianity).
- I can have a cup (you will drink the contents of the cup).
- It has twenty thousand head of cattle (twenty thousand cattle).
- They rented a jukebox for party Ana (by phonograph or jukebox).
- I liked the trumpet , I improvised well (the musician who played the trumpet).
- The pen is stronger than the sword (letters against the exercise of arms).
- Look for a flag to fight for (look for an idea or a purpose).
- It is considered the arm of the law (the one that enforces the law).
- Here is the joy of home (the one that produces joy).
- I do not know if I will be able to with the second course (of food).
- He brought a Bordeaux to accompany the dinner (a wine from this region).
- His way of playing Chopin is a bit harsh (Chopin’s music).
- The Casa Rosada will announce the changes (the presidency of Argentina).
- If you give me your phone, I’ll call you tomorrow (your phone number).
- Give me a hand with this job (a help). Metonymy with its types and examples
- He ordered a rum while he waited (a glass of rum).
- Two heads are better than one (two people).
- The road is bad, we better go with the Toyota (four-wheel drive truck).
- Nobody knows what decision the Moncloa (Presidency of Spain) will make.
- He loses his head easily (gets out of control).
- They’re looking for a second baseman for the team (second baseman in baseball).
- In that place there was not a soul after midnight (not a person).
- I love the Magrittes (René Magritte’s paintings).
- It is the best pen in that newspaper (the best writer).
- I want coconut vanilla ( coconut vanilla ice cream).