Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept. The words “metonymy” and “metonym” come from the Greek: “a change of name”, from “after, beyond” and, a suffix used to name figures of speech. Metonymy and related figures of speech are common in everyday talk and writing. Synecdoche and metalepsis are considered specific types of metonymy. Polysemy, multiple meanings of a single word or phrase, sometimes results from relations of metonymy. Both metonymy and metaphor involve the substitution of one term for another. In metaphor, this substitution is based on some specific analogy between two things, whereas in metonymy the substitution is based on some understood association or contiguity. American literary theorist Kenneth Burke described metonymy as one of four “master tropes”: metaphor, a substitute for perspective; metonymy, a substitute for reduction; synecdoche, a substitute for representation; and irony, a substitute for dialectic. He described these tropes and the way they overlap in A Grammar of Motives.In addition to its use in everyday speech, metonymy is a figure of speech in some poetry and in much rhetoric. Greek and Latin scholars of rhetoric made significant contributions to the study of metonymy.

 

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