Listen to this article
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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, or conversely the use of 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.

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]

Archetypal names[edit]

The opposite of antonomasia is an archetypal name. 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 the German Reinhard).



Fictional characters[edit]

Works of art[edit]


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  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Antonomasia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 151.
  4. ^ Zezima, Katie (27 November 2003). "A Job Transformed: Paper-Pusher to Junkyard Dog". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "A major fight looms for Beacon Hill's 'Prince of Darkness' - the Boston Globe". The Boston Globe.

External links[edit]

Listen to this article (5 minutes)
Spoken Wikipedia icon
This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 16 July 2019 (2019-07-16), and does not reflect subsequent edits.

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