List of metonyms

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The following is a list of common metonyms.[note 1] A metonym is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. For instance, "London", as the capital of the United Kingdom, could be used as a metonym for its government. (See below for more examples.)


Word Original use Metonymic use
bar the bar in a courtroom that separates the judges and lawyers from the laypeople all the lawyers licensed to practice law in a certain court or jurisdiction.[1]
bench the location in a courtroom where a judge sits when presiding over court all the judges of a court or jurisdiction; members of a judiciary; the presiding officer (judge) in a court.[2]
boots on the ground footwear worn by soldiers in combat Combat troops actually in a geographic area (as opposed to those in aircraft or ships off shore)[3]
brass a metal used in buttons and insignia military officers[4]
china China, the country Chinese porcelain or other types of ceramic[4]
city hall a city's chief administrative building city government or government in general[2] (Common usage in axiom, "You can't fight city hall.")
The Crown A monarch's headwear The monarchy[5]
dish an item of crockery a course (in dining)[6]
gun a firearm an assassin or soldier (ex. "hired gun")[7]
mortal subject to death human[8]
pink slip a discharge notice, historically a slip of paper in an employee's pay envelope a layoff or termination of employment[9]
suits business attire business executives and lawyers[7]
sweat perspiration hard work[10]
tongue oral muscle a language or dialect [11]


Word Original use Metonymic use
10 Downing Street or "Number 10" official residence of the Prime Minister[note 2] the British Prime Minister and his or her staff[12]
Broadway street in New York City Broadway theatre in particular, and American theatre in general[4]
the City City of London; a portion of Greater London, home to the financial district the financial (and related) institutions located in the City of London[13]
Cooperstown a village in upstate New York the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located in the village[14]
Detroit the largest city in Michigan the American automobile industry[15]
Fleet Street a street in the City of London the British national press[16]
Hollywood District of Los Angeles the American film industry[4]
Kremlin historic fortress and seat of Soviet and Russian leaders the Russian presidential administration[17]
Madison Avenue a street in New York City the American advertising industry[4]
Nashville the capital of the state of Tennessee the country music industry, which has strong ties to Nashville[4]
Pearl Harbor a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941[4]
Spring Street a street in the central business district of Melbourne The Parliament of Victoria (located here), the Government of Victoria and its bureaucracy[18][non-primary source needed]
Sublime Porte a gate giving access to a block of government buildings in Istanbul the Imperial Government (sometimes specifically foreign affairs) of the Ottoman Empire[19]
Threadneedle Street a street in the City of London the Bank of England or its directors[20]
Wall Street street in New York City the US financial markets, for which Wall Street is the traditional center of securities trading[4]
Washington capital of the United States the United States federal government[1]
Watergate Watergate Hotel and Office Building in Washington, DC the Nixon election scandal[4]
Westminster a city within Greater London the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[21]
The White House official residence of the President of the United States the President and staff[1]
Whitehall street in Westminster the central government of the United Kingdom, particularly the civil service[22]
The Pentagon a pentagonal building located in Arlington County, Virginia the United States Department of Defense [23]


  1. ^ Since metonymy – the process by which metonyms are formed – is a productive process, new metonyms can always be created. This list cannot include all metonyms, but only some of those that are identified as common.
  2. ^ Technically, 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, not the Prime Minister. However, the two offices have been held by the same person since the early 20th century.


  1. ^ a b c Traugott, Elizabeth Closs; Dasher, Richard B. (2002). Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-43115-6. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Harris, Judith A. (1985). "Recognizing legal tropes: Metonymy as manipulative mode". The American University Law Review 34: 1215–1229. 
  3. ^ Safire, William (December 5, 2008). "Synecdoche". New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ruhl, Charles (1989). Acts of Arguing: A Rhetorical Model of Argument. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-1827-8. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Hogg, Richard M.; van Bergen, Linda (1998). Historical Linguistics 1995: Selected Papers from the 12th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Manchester, August 1995. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-3667-8. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Paprotté, Wolf; Dirven, René (1985). The Ubiquity of Metaphor: Metaphor in Language and Thought. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-3521-3. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Killingsworth, M. Jimmie (2005). Appeals in Modern Rhetoric: An Ordinary-language Approach. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-8826-4. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Panther, Klaus-Uwe; Radden, Günter (1999). Metonymy in Language and Thought. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-2356-2. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Greisdorf, Howard; O'Connor, Brian. "Modelling what users see when they look at images: A cognitive viewpoint". Journal of Documentation 58 (1): 6–30. doi:10.1108/00220410210425386. 
  10. ^ Hanks, Patrick (1 January 2013). Lexical Analysis: Norms and Exploitations. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01857-9. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, Francisco José; Pérez Hernández, Lorena (2003). "Cognitive operations and pragmatic implication". In Klaus-Uwe Panther, Linda L. Thornburg. Metonymy and Pragmatic Inferencing. John Benjamins. ISBN 978-90-272-5355-2. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Kovecses, Zoltan (2002). Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-988842-9. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Berstler, Brenda (2007). Home Plate: The Culinary Road Trip of Cooperstown. Savor New York. ISBN 978-0-9796802-0-5. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Detroit, MI". Forbes. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Laverne, Lauren. "When the high street meets the internet", The Observer, London, 6 October 2013. Retrieved on 3 January 2014.
  17. ^ Lakoff, George (2008). "Metonymic models". Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-47101-3. 
  18. ^ Michael Bachelard Feeling the heat The Age, July 25, 2010
  19. ^ Christopher H. Johnson; David Warren Sabean; Simon Teuscher; Francesca Trivellato (15 August 2011). Transregional and Transnational Families in Europe and Beyond: Experiences Since the Middle Ages. Berghahn Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-85745-184-2. 
  20. ^ Dreiser, Theodore (2004). A Traveler at Forty. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02913-4. 
  21. ^ "The Virtual Classroom Glossary of Literary Terms". Faculty of English: Classroom. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 April 2014.