From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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, such epithets may be used for elegant variation to reduce repetition of names in phrases.

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



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]


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]


  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.