List of metonyms

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The following is a list of common metonyms.[n 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, "Westminster", a borough of London in the United Kingdom, could be used as a metonym for its government.


Word or phrase Original / literal use Metonymic use
bar The bar in a courtroom that separates judges and lawyers from 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 a 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. Combat troops deployed in a geographic area (as opposed to those awaiting deployment and/or in aircraft or ships offshore).[3]
brass A metal alloy (used for or in the manufacture of e.g. buttons, insignia and (traditionally) a family of musical instruments) Military officers[4]
china The country China. Chinese porcelain or other types of ceramic.[4]
city hall A city's chief administrative building. Local government or, more pejoratively, government in general.[2] Most common use is in the adage "You can't fight city hall."
crown / Crown A type of monarchical headwear. Monarchy, especially the British monarchy (as "The Crown").[5]
dish An item of crockery. (The foundation of) a course – usually the main course – of a meal.[6]
gun A firearm. An assassin, mercenary or soldier (as in "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 (plural). Business executives and lawyers.[7]
sweat Perspiration. Hard (physical) work.[10]
tongue Oral muscle. A language or dialect.[11]


Word or phrase Original / literal use Metonymic use
10 Downing Street
("Number 10")
The official residence of the British Prime Minister.[n 2] The British Prime Minister and his or her staff.[12]
Broadway A street in Manhattan, New York City. Broadway theatre; sometimes, although less accurately, commercial American theatre in general.[4]
Brussels Brussels is the seat of major institutions of the European Union. Institutions of the European Union or the EU as a whole.
"the City" / "The City"   The City of London, the part of Central London, England, that has the longest contiguous recorded history. The financial (and related) institutions located in the City of London.[13]
Cooperstown A village in upstate New York, USA. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cooperstown, New York.[14]
Detroit The largest city in Michigan, USA. The American automobile industry.[15]
Élysée Palace The Élysée Palace is the seat of the President of France. The President of the French Republic and his or her staff.
Fleet Street A street in the City of London. The British national press.[16]
Foggy Bottom A neighbourhood in Washington, D.C.. The United States Department of State has its seat in the area.
Hollywood A district of Los Angeles, California. The American film industry.[4]
Hrad ("The Castle") The Prague Castle and official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic. The President of the Czech Republic and his or her staff, and also the Czech Republic as a whole.[17]
Ikulu The official residence of the President of Tanzania The State House and its administration.[18]
Kremlin A historic type of Russian fortress or citadel. The Moscow Kremlin and/or the Russian presidential administration.[19]
Løvebakken The driveway in front of the Storting building. The supreme legislature of Norway.
Madison Avenue A street in Manhattan, New York City. The American advertising industry.[4]
Nashville The capital of the state of Tennessee, USA. The country music industry.[4]
Pearl Harbor The natural harbor on the coast of Oahu island, Hawaii. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941.[4]
(The) Pentagon A pentagonal building in Arlington County, Virginia, USA. The United States Department of Defense (whose headquarters is housed by the Pentagon building).[20]
Queen's Park An urban park in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Ontario Legislative Building (which is located within the park) and/or the provincial government of Ontario.[21]
Quai d'Orsay The headquarters of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located at 37 Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.[22]
Scotland Yard Name given to the original public entrance (via "Great Scotland Yard") to the headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police Service. London or British police, especially detectives.
Spring Street A street in the central business district of Melbourne, Victoria (Australia). The Parliament and Government of Victoria (and, when used pejoratively, its bureaucracy).[23][non-primary source needed]
Stormont Stormont Estate, Ireland The Government of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Sublime Porte A gate giving access to a block of government buildings in Istanbul, Turkey. The Imperial Government of the Ottoman Empire (sometimes, more specifically, its foreign policies and relations).[24]
Threadneedle Street A street in the City of London. The Bank of England and/or its directors.[25]
Turtle Bay Turtle Bay, a neighbourhood in Manhattan Headquarters of the United Nations (occasionally)
Wall Street A street in Manhattan, New York City. The American financial markets (Wall Street is the traditional center of securities trading in the United States).[4]
Washington The state or, as "Washington, D.C." ("Washington, District of Columbia"), the capital of the United States (named for George Washington, the country's first president following independence). The United States federal government.[1]
Watergate The Watergate Hotel and Office Building in Washington, D.C. The political scandal exposed after a burglary at the Watergate Hotel.[4]
Westminster A part of Central London, England. The Parliament of the United Kingdom.[26]
(The) White House The official residence of the President of the United States. The President of the United States and his or her staff.[1]
Youngstorget A square in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian labour movement - the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Labour Party.
Whitehall A street in Westminster, London. The central government of the United Kingdom, particularly the civil service.[27]


  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. ^ Lauren Laverne, "When the high street meets the internet", The Observer, London, 6 October 2013. Retrieved on 3 January 2014.
  17. ^ Zantovské Murray, Irena. "Our Slav Acropolis: Language and Architecture in the Prague Castle under Masaryk". McGill University. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Thomas Molony (1 June 2014). Nyerere: The Early Years. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-1-84701-090-2. 
  19. ^ Lakoff, George (2008). "Metonymic models". Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-47101-3. 
  20. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  21. ^ "Legacy of a People's Park". Education Portal. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "French Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Directorate of Economic and Financial Affairs". Global Hand. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  23. ^ Michael Bachelard, Feeling the heat The Age, July 25, 2010
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ Dreiser, Theodore (2004). A Traveler at Forty. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02913-4. 
  26. ^ "The Virtual Classroom Glossary of Literary Terms". Faculty of English: Classroom. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 September 2013.