Word of the Day : September 12, 2013


noun muh-TAH-nuh-mee


: a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated


American journalists employ metonymy whenever they say "the White House" in place of "the president and his administration."

"It's common for headline-writers to refer to the Big Three automakers-Ford, Chrysler, and GM-as 'Detroit.' But that metonymy is misleading in a very important way. The fortunes of Detroit the city are no longer tied up with the fortunes of the Big Three automakers." - From an article by Brad Plumer in The Washington Post, July 19, 2013

Did You Know?

When Mark Antony asks the people of Rome to lend him their ears in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, he is employing the rhetorical device known as metonymy. Derived via Latin from Greek "metonymia" (from "meta-," meaning "among, with, or after," and "onyma," meaning "name"), metonymy often appears in news articles and headlines, as when journalists use the term "crown" to refer to a king or queen. Another common example is the use of an author's name to refer to works written by that person, as in "He is studying Hemingway." Metonymy is closely related to synecdoche, which refers to the naming of a part of something to refer to the whole thing (or vice versa), as in "We hired extra hands to help us."

Test Your Memory

What word completes this sentence from a former Word of the Day piece: "Kara regarded her teacher as __________ on matters pertaining to both school and life, and she listened carefully to her advice whenever it was offered"? The answer is …


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