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]
eyes and ears Sensory organs, used for visual and auditory perception A spy, someone who watches observes and reports information back to another party, perhaps a partner but typically a superior
gun A firearm An assassin, mercenary or soldier (as in "hired gun")[7]
Ivy League A sports conference consisting of eight highly prestigious private universities in the Northeastern United States The same group of eight colleges in the context of academics and elitism
Katrina A girls' name. Hurricane Katrina
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]
Albany Albany, New York, the capital city of New York State New York state government
Area 51 Area 51, an area in Nevada where secret experiments take place Conspiracy theories and UFO sightings
Armonk Armonk, New York, where the headquarters of IBM is located IBM[14]
Aurora A suburb of Denver, Colorado The mass shooting that took place in the city on 20 July 2012
Bangalore Bangalore, a major city in India Outsourced labor in the U.S. information technology industry, generally labor replacing more costly labor found in Silicon Valley and in the United States
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]
Benghazi A city in Libya The attack on the U.S. embassy that took place on 11 September 2012 and the subsequent investigation
Beslan A town located in southern Russia near the border with Georgia The September 2004 siege of one of the town's schools by Islamic groups
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills, California, a rich enclave of Los Angeles Any neighborhood of the rich and famous associated with the American movie industry[citation needed]
Broadway A street in Manhattan, New York City Broadway theatre; sometimes, although less accurately, commercial American theatre in general[4]
Brussels The capital of Belgium Institutions of the European Union, headquartered in that city, or the EU as a whole
Beijing The capital of China The Chinese government, specifically in regards to foreign policies by the communist regime
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[16]
"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[17]
Capitol Hill or the Hill A neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The United States Congress[18]
Chernobyl A city in Ukraine, located north of Kiev The nuclear disaster in the city on 26 April 1986.
Columbine An unincorporated community near Denver, Colorado The Columbine High School massacre, sometimes given as a reference point for later school shootings
Cooperstown A village in upstate New York The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cooperstown, New York[19]
Daytona Daytona Beach, Florida, a major city in Florida known for the Daytona 500 Another word for car racing
Detroit The largest city in Michigan The American automobile industry[20]
Disneyworld / Disneyland Walt Disney World and Disneyland, amusement parks Any fantasy world
Downing Street A street in the Westminster area of London The office of the British Prime Minister or the absolute centre of the British Government
Élysée Palace The Élysée Palace is the seat of the President of France The President of the French Republic and his or her staff
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
Fifth Avenue A street in the New York City borough of Manhattan The upscale retailers that are generally located along it[21]
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[22]
Fleet Street A street in the City of London The British national press[23]
Flint A city in northeastern Michigan The water contamination crisis that faced the city in the mid-2010s
Foggy Bottom A neighbourhood in Washington, D.C. The United States Department of State, which has its offices in the neighborhood
Fort Knox A U.S. Army base in Kentucky The United States Bullion Depository, which is located within the base; or to describe anything which is deemed to be totally secure or impregnable.
Fukushima A city in Japan The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, one of the deadliest nuclear accidents in history, which occurred there following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
Harlem Harlem, a section of Manhattan, New York City Was generally viewed negatively as a well-known ghetto; it was synonymous with the word "ghetto" when referring to similar neighborhoods in other U.S. cities and not necessarily Harlem itself
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. [24]
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
Houston A city in Texas NASA, as in "Houston, we have a problem", or the petroleum industry in the United States
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[25]
Ikulu The official residence of the President of Tanzania The State House and its administration[26]
India India, a country known for having skilled individuals in the information technology industry who have a lower salary requirement than similarly skilled individuals in more developed countries such as the United States Outsourced information technology labor
Indy Indianapolis, a major city in Indiana The car racing industry or the nickname for movie character Indiana Jones
Iowa Iowa, a U.S. state The U.S. presidential election caucus in Iowa, which is usually the first in an election cycle
Itamaraty Itamaraty Palace in Brasília, headquarters of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil. The Brazilian ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomats[27]
Jersey Jersey, a small island in the English Channel and a Crown dependency of the United Kingdom New Jersey, a U.S. state named after it
K Street A street in downtown Washington, D.C. The American lobbying industry[28]
Kansas Kansas, a midwestern U.S. state The Wild West where few people reside, generally an unpopulated area; a place that is not the city; anything like the rustic Kansas home of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
Kastilja ("Castile") Auberge de Castille The Office of the Prime Minister of Malta[29]
Kentucky Kentucky, a U.S. state An unsophisticated lifestyle area, generally associated with red necks and hill billies, not necessarily Kentucky itself, but rather rural areas where there is no sophistication; examples generally label such areas outside of major cities; generally derogatory in usage similar to saying that people from "tucky" only have "one tooth"
Kremlin A historic type of Russian fortress or citadel The Moscow Kremlin and/or the Russian presidential administration; historically, any Russian or Soviet government[30]
Langley A small suburb of Washington, D.C., in Virginia The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency[31]
"Las Vegas" or "Vegas" Las Vegas, a major city in Nevada The Las Vegas Strip, the American gambling industry, or a place "sinful" in nature
L.A. Los Angeles, a major city in California Any aspect of an active or healthy lifestyle symbolized by the city; many brands promoting healthy lifestyles generally have L.A. as part of its brand name[citation needed]
Lockerbie Lockerbie, a small town in Scotland The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, whose wreckage landed in the town.
Løvebakken The driveway in front of the Storting building The supreme legislature of Norway
McDonald's A fast food restaurant Anything mass-produced (i.e. McHome represents homes put together like hamburgers)
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 Major local businesses, especially all of the local businesses of a town or community, or of the entire nation
Motown A nickname for Detroit, the motor town A record company of the American music industry, or the movement of R&B music associated with the label
Nashville The capital of the U.S. state Tennessee The country music industry[4]
New Hampshire New Hampshire, a northeastern U.S. state The New Hampshire presidential election primary, which is usually the first to be held
Newtown / Sandy Hook A small town in western Connecticut and a village located within the town The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of December 2012, the third deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and often cited as a major turning point in gun control
Oklahoma City The capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma The bombing of the city's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995
Old Bailey A street in the City of London.[32] The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.
Orlando A city in central Florida The city's theme park industry, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando; or the June 2016 massacre at a gay nightclub in the city.
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)[33]
Pennsylvania Avenue Pennsylvania Avenue, a street in Washington, D.C. The executive and legislative branches of the United States, because this avenue runs between the White House and the United States Capitol
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, a city in Pennsylvania The U.S. steel industry of the 1950s
Pyongyang The capital of North Korea The Government of North Korea
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.[34]
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[35]
Redmond Redmond, Washington, where the headquarters of Microsoft is located Microsoft[14]
Sacramento Sacramento, state capital of California California government and politics
San Bernardino A major city in southern California The terrorist attack that hit the city on 2 December 2015.
Sand Hill Road A street in Menlo Park, California The venture capital firms that fund startups in the American high-tech industry.[36]
Savile Row A short street in central London The high-quality bespoke men's suits made by tailors' shops on the street[37]
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
Selma Selma, Alabama. Represents the beginning of the black civil rights movement
Seventh Avenue A street in the New York City borough of Manhattan The American fashion industry[38]
Shepherd's Bush A neighbourhood in west London The British Broadcasting Corporation[39]
Silicon Valley San Jose and its suburbs on the southwest side of San Francisco Bay The American high-tech industry[40]
South of the border Mexico, the country that is south of the border to the United States Mexican and Central American politics and culture
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)[41][non-primary source needed]
Srebrenica A town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina The July 1995 massacre of the Muslim Bosniaks in the town
Stormont The Stormont Estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Government of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly
Stamford A city in Connecticut World Wrestling Entertainment
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)[42]
Threadneedle Street A street in the City of London The Bank of England and/or its directors[43]
Tiananmen Square A major square in Beijing, China The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tin Pan Alley A block along 28th Street in Manhattan The American popular music industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries[44]
Turtle Bay A neighborhood on the East Side of Manhattan The United Nations (occasionally)
The Vatican A small sovereign state surrounded by Rome, Italy The Holy See, and the Roman Catholic Church in general[45]
Vietnam A country in southeast Asia The Vietnam War
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 (in reference to the capital)[1] During an election, the term can also mean established career politicians, a term used during the 2016 Republican race when Ted Cruz said "who will stand up to Washington?"[46]
Watergate The Watergate Hotel and Office Building in Washington, D.C. The political scandal exposed after a burglary at the Watergate Hotel,[4] and political scandals in general.
Westminster A part of Central London, England The Parliament of the United Kingdom[47]
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)[48]
(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 Her Majesty's Civil Service[49]
Zhongnanhai A former imperial garden adjacent to an eponymous lake in central Beijing, now used as residences The leadership of the Chinese government[50]
Zion A mountain located in Israel where Jerusalem The city of Jerusalem; usually in biblical text or context


  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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