syn·​ec·​do·​che | \ sə-ˈnek-də-(ˌ)kē How to pronounce synecdoche (audio) \

Definition of synecdoche

: a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (such as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (such as society for high society), the species for the genus (such as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (such as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (such as boards for stage)

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Other Words from synecdoche

synecdochic \ ˌsi-​ˌnek-​ˈdä-​kik How to pronounce synecdoche (audio) \ adjective
synecdochical \ ˌsi-​ˌnek-​ˈdä-​ki-​kəl How to pronounce synecdoche (audio) \ adjective
synecdochically \ ˌsi-​ˌnek-​ˈdä-​ki-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce synecdoche (audio) \ adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About synecdoche

What is the difference between synecdoche and metonymy?

Synecdoche refers to a literary device in which a part of something is substituted for the whole (as hired hand for "worker"), or less commonly, a whole represents a part (as when society denotes "high society"). In metonymy, a word that is associated with something is used to refer to it (as when crown is used to mean "king" or "queen"). For more information read the full article.

Is 'lend me your ears' an example of metonymy or synecdoche?

The Shakespearean phrase "lend me your ears," from Mark Antony's speech in Julius Caesar, is a call for the audience's attention made using metonymy, since ears are not part of attention but are associated with paying attention.

What are some examples of synecdoche?

Here are some examples of synecdoche: the word hand in "offer your hand in marriage"; mouths in "hungry mouths to feed"; and wheels referring to a car.

Examples of synecdoche in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This freedom was evoked with the Abstract Expressionist brushstrokes of Pollock and Franz Kline, whose art became a synecdoche for unfettered personal expression and for individualism more broadly. Jonathon Keats, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 The synecdoche soon wore down, however, and other words came into view. Ishion Hutchinson, The New York Review of Books, 19 Nov. 2020 What film choruses offer us is a perfect synecdoche for the collective, frenzied, and deeply mercenary magic that creates movies in the first place. Adrian Daub, Longreads, 3 Sep. 2021 What some might call clear price-gouging tactics by such entities make for a convenient, and politically bipartisan, punching bag as a sort-of synecdoche of the sector's moral failings. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, 20 May 2021 How four generations of one American family are a synecdoche of the decline of the conservative movement. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 19 Feb. 2021 But rather than presenting their fate as an ending, Simpson goes beyond rhetorical strategies of synecdoche and metonymy to represent the whole encased in ice. Star Tribune, 12 Feb. 2021 Once these drugs became a synecdoche for the hippie counterculture, and some researchers (including ones at the CIA) did less-than-ethical work, the stigma stuck. Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, 9 Nov. 2020 The figure of Cormery’s domineering grandmother, taking a rawhide switch to the troublemaking boy or up to her elbow in a toilet recovering a two-franc piece, is a synecdoche for the country’s intransigence and desperation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'synecdoche.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of synecdoche

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for synecdoche

Latin, from Greek synekdochē, from syn- + ekdochē sense, interpretation, from ekdechesthai to receive, understand, from ex from + dechesthai to receive; akin to Greek dokein to seem good — more at ex-, decent

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Cite this Entry

“Synecdoche.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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