Antonomasia

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In rhetoric, antonomasia is a kind of metonymy in which an epithet or phrase takes the place of a proper name, such as "the little corporal" for Napoleon I. Conversely, antonomasia can also be using a proper name as an archetypal name, to express a generic idea.

A frequent instance of antonomasia in the Late Middle Ages and early Renaissance was the use of the term "the Philosopher" to refer to Aristotle. A more recent example of the other form of antonomasia (usage of archetypes) was the use of "Solons" for "the legislators" in 1930s journalism, after the semi-legendary Solon, lawgiver of Athens.

Stylistically, it may be used for elegant variation.

Etymology[edit]

The word comes from the Greek ἀντονομασία, antonomasia, itself from the verb ἀντονομάζειν, antonomazein 'to name differently'.[1][2][3]

Examples[edit]

Persons[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

  • "The Dark Knight" or "The Caped Crusader" for Batman (also referred as "The Dynamic Duo" when paired with fictional sidekick, Robin)
  • "The Man of Steel" or the "Man of Tomorrow" for Superman
  • "The Boy Who Lived" for Harry Potter

Works of art[edit]

Places[edit]


Opposite examples[edit]

See "archetypal name" for examples of the opposite kind of antonomasia.

One common example in French is the word for fox: the Latin-derived French: goupil was replaced by French: renard, from Renart, the fox hero of the Roman de Renart; originally German Reinhard.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ἀντονομασία,ἀντονομάζειν. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, s.v.
  3. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Antonomasia". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Antonomasia". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.