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 the country's 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]
red tape Tape that is coloured red A overly bureaucratic process[10]
suits Business attire (plural) Business executives and lawyers[7]
sweat Perspiration Hard (physical) work[11]
tongue Oral muscle A language or dialect[12]


Word or phrase Original / literal use Metonymic use
10 Downing Street
("Number 10")
The official residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom[n 2] The Prime Minister and their staff[13]
Armonk Armonk, New York, where the headquarters of IBM is located IBM[14]
Bay Street A street in downtown Toronto The Canadian financial sector, since the Toronto Stock Exchange, the country's main securities market, and the headquarters of many of its major banks, are located there[15]
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills, California, a rich enclave of Los Angeles Rich and famous people[16]
Broadway A street in Manhattan, New York City Broadway theatre; sometimes, although less accurately, commercial American theatre in general[4]
Buckingham Palace or the Palace A large building in London that is the official residence of the reigning British sovereign The British royal family and its staff[17]
"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[18]
Capitol Hill or the Hill A neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The United States Congress[19]
Chernobyl A city in Ukraine, located north of Kiev The nuclear disaster in the city on 26 April 1986[20]
Cooperstown A village in upstate New York The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cooperstown, New York[21]
Detroit The largest city in Michigan The American automobile industry[22]
Ferguson Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis The 9 August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white police officer and the subsequent unrest that began in the city and later spread nationwide[23]
Fifth Avenue A street in the New York City borough of Manhattan The upscale retailers that are generally located along it[24]
The fifth floor The floor of a building above the fourth floor The Mayor of Chicago and his or her staff, since their offices are on that floor of city hall[25]
Fleet Street A street in the City of London The British national press[26]
Foggy Bottom A neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The United States Department of State[27]
Fukushima A city in Japan The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster[28]
Hillsborough Hillsborough an area of Sheffield, United Kingdom and location of Hillsborough Stadium. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 where 96 Liverpool F.C. fans died in a Human crush. Also used as a word for Police corruption and Cover-up. [29]
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Two cities in southwestern Japan Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Allied forces in August 1945[28]
Hollywood A district of Los Angeles, California The American film industry[4]
Holyrood An area in Edinburgh The Scottish Parliament, which is located in that area, or more generally the Scottish Government[30]
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[31]
Ikulu The official residence of the President of Tanzania The State House and its administration[32]
Itamaraty Itamaraty Palace in Brasília, headquarters of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil. The Brazilian ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomats[33]
K Street A street in downtown Washington, D.C. The American lobbying industry[34]
Kastilja ("Castile") Auberge de Castille The Office of the Prime Minister of Malta[35]
Kremlin A historic type of Russian fortress or citadel The Moscow Kremlin and/or the Russian presidential administration; historically, any Russian or Soviet government[36]
Langley A small suburb of Washington, D.C., in Virginia The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency[37]
Madison Avenue A street in Manhattan, New York City The American advertising industry[4]
Main Street The principal street of a town, traditionally the site of shops, banks, and other businesses Local businesses or the "middle class" generally[38]
Nashville The capital of the U.S. state Tennessee The country music industry[4]
Old Bailey A street in the City of London.[39] The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.
Pearl Harbor The natural harbor on the coast of Oahu island, Hawaii The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on 7 December 1941[4]
(The) Pentagon A pentagonal building in Arlington County, Virginia The United States Department of Defense (whose headquarters is housed by the Pentagon building)[40]
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.[41]
Quai d'Orsay A wharf and adjoining street in the 7th arrondisement of Paris, France The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, which is located at 37 Quai d'Orsay[42]
Sand Hill Road A street in Menlo Park, California The venture capital firms that fund startups in the American high-tech industry.[43]
Savile Row A short street in central London The high-quality bespoke men's suits made by tailors' shops on the street[44]
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[45]
Selma Selma, Alabama The U.S. civil rights movement or backlash against the movement[46]
Seventh Avenue A street in the New York City borough of Manhattan The American fashion industry[47]
Shepherd's Bush A neighbourhood in west London The British Broadcasting Corporation[48]
Silicon Valley San Jose and its suburbs on the southwest side of San Francisco Bay The American high-tech industry[49]
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)[50][non-primary source needed]
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)[51]
Threadneedle Street A street in the City of London The Bank of England and/or its directors[52]
Tin Pan Alley A block along 28th Street in Manhattan The American popular music industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries[53]
The Vatican A small sovereign state surrounded by Rome, Italy The Holy See, and the Roman Catholic Church in general[54]
Wall Street A street in Manhattan, New York City The American financial markets[4] or "big business" more generally[38]
Washington Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States The Federal government of the United States[1] or established career politicians[55]
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[56]
Whitehall A street in the Westminster area of London The British Government - the term "Whitehall" is often used in a similar context to "Westminster" (above)[57]
(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]
Whitehall A street in Westminster, London The central government of the United Kingdom, particularly Her Majesty's Civil Service[58]
Zhongnanhai A former imperial garden adjacent to an eponymous lake in central Beijing, now used as residences The leadership of the Chinese government[59]
Zion A mountain located in Israel The city of Jerusalem or the people associated with it[60]


  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.


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