synecdoche

play
noun syn·ec·do·che \sə-ˈnek-də-(ˌ)kē\

Definition of synecdoche

  1. :  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)

synecdochic

play \ˌsi-ˌnek-ˈdä-kik\ adjective

synecdochical

play \-ˈdä-ki-kəl\ adjective

synecdochically

play \-ki-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

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Recent Examples of synecdoche from the Web

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.

Use synecdoche as a Literary Device

Synecdoche, from Greek syn- ("together") and "ekdochē" ("interpretation"), is a good word to know if you are a budding author. Writers, and especially poets, use synecdoche in several different ways to create vivid imagery. Most frequently, synecdoche involves substituting a part for the whole ("fifty sail" for "fifty ships"). Less commonly, it involves putting the whole for the part ("society" for "high society"), the species for the genus ("cutthroat" for "assassin"), the genus for the species ("a creature" for "a man"), or the material for the thing made ("boards" for "stage"). Synecdoche is similar to metonymy, the use of the name of one thing in place of something associated with it (such as "Shakespeare" for "the works of Shakespeare").

Origin and Etymology of 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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