List of metonyms

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

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]
bed A place where a human sleeps or rests Sexual activity or the state of a sexual relationship
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]
drink To take in and swallow a beverage To imbibe alcohol
gun A firearm An assassin, mercenary or soldier (as in "hired gun")[7]
lead A heavy metal used to manufacture ammunition Bullets[8]
mortal Subject to death Human[9]
pink slip A discharge notice (historically, a slip of paper in an employee's pay envelope) A layoff or termination of employment[10]
pint A pint glass A beer or similar alcoholic beverage that is served most often in a pint glass.
plastic A polymer material that can be made into various products A credit card
pulpit A platform from which a Preacher or Pastor gives Sermons to a Church congregation The institution of the Church, a preacher or the doctrine of a Church.
red tape Tape that is coloured red An overly bureaucratic process[11]
suits Business attire (plural) Business executives and lawyers[7]
sweat Perspiration Hard (physical) work[12]
tongue Oral muscle A language or dialect[13]
water cooler A device that dispenses and cools water, often in an office environment The social or collaborative element of a workplace, often called the "water cooler effect"


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[14]
Armonk Armonk, New York, where the headquarters of IBM is located IBM[15]
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 the five major Canadian banks, are located there[16]
Beijing The capital of China The Chinese government, particularly the leadership
The Beehive A building that houses the executive wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings The New Zealand Government
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills, California, a rich enclave of Los Angeles Rich and famous people[17]
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 The government of the European Union[18]
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[19]
The City The City of London, the part of Central London, England, that has the longest contiguous recorded history The financial (and related) institutions in the United kingdom [20]
Canberra Canberra, the capital city of Australia The Australian federal government and its Departments and general bureaucracy, as in "Canberra said... "
Capitol Hill or the Hill A neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The United States Congress[21]
Casa Rosada The executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina The government of Argentina
Chernobyl A city in Ukraine, located north of Kiev The nuclear disaster in the city on 26 April 1986[22]
Cooperstown A village in upstate New York The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cooperstown, New York[23]
Cupertino A city in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, where Apple Inc. is headquartered Apple Inc.
Detroit The largest city in Michigan The American automobile industry[24]
Fifth Avenue A street in the New York City borough of Manhattan The upscale retailers that are generally located along it[25]
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[26]
Fleet Street A street in the City of London The British national press[27]
Foggy Bottom A neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The United States Department of State[28]
Fukushima A city in Japan The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster[29]
The Hague A city in the Netherlands The International Criminal Court or International Court of Justice, both of which have their seat in the city.[30][31]
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.[32]
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Two cities in southwestern Japan Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Allied forces in August 1945[29]
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[33]
Hongdae Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea Hongdae, a cultural/tourist neighborhood of Seoul surrounding Hongik University
Houston A city in Texas NASA's Johnson Space Center, its Mission Control Center within, or NASA in general (from the call sign used by astronauts to contact Mission Control)[34]
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[35]
Ikulu The official residence of the President of Tanzania The State House and its administration[36]
Itamaraty Itamaraty Palace in Brasília, headquarters of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil. The Brazilian ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomats[37]
K Street A street in downtown Washington, D.C. The American lobbying industry[38]
Kastilja or Castile Auberge de Castille, an 18th-century auberge in the Maltese capital Valletta The Office of the Prime Minister of Malta[39]
The Kremlin A historic type of Russian fortress or citadel The Moscow Kremlin and/or the Russian presidential administration; historically, any Russian or Soviet government[40]
Langley A small suburb of Washington, D.C., in Virginia The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency[41]
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[42]
Nashville The capital of the U.S. state Tennessee The country music industry[4]
The Old Bailey A street in the City of London.[43] The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.
Ottawa The capital city of Canada The Government of Canada
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]
Pyongyang The capital and economic center of North Korea The North Korean government leadership, often as a totalitarian regime
The Pentagon A pentagonal building in Arlington County, Virginia The United States Department of Defense (whose headquarters is housed by the Pentagon building)[44]
The Phanar Phanar is a quarter of Istanbul, Turkey, where is located the Patriarchate of Constantinople and where used to lived many Greeks after the Ottoman conquest. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
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.[45]
Quai d'Orsay A wharf and adjoining street in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, which is located at 37 Quai d'Orsay[46]
Redmond A city in the U.S. state of Washington Microsoft
Sand Hill Road A street in Menlo Park, California The venture capital firms that fund startups in the American high-tech industry.[47]
Savile Row A short street in central London The high-quality bespoke men's suits made by tailors' shops on the street[48]
Schengen A village in eastern Luxembourg The Schengen treaty of freedom of movement in Europe, a borderless international border
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[49]
Selma Selma, Alabama The U.S. civil rights movement or backlash against the movement[50]
Seventh Avenue A street in the New York City borough of Manhattan The American fashion industry[51]
Shepherd's Bush A neighbourhood in west London The British Broadcasting Corporation[52]
Silicon Valley San Jose and its suburbs on the southwest side of San Francisco Bay The American high-tech industry[53]
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)[54][non-primary source needed]
Stormont An estate in County Down, east of Belfast The Northern Ireland Assembly[55]
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)[56]
Tamminiemi A villa in Helsinki and a former official residence of the President of Finland Historically the President of Finland, mostly associated with Urho Kekkonen[57]
Threadneedle Street A street in the City of London The Bank of England and/or its directors[58]
Tin Pan Alley A block along 28th Street in Manhattan The American popular music industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries[59]
Timbuktu An ancient city located in landlocked Mali in Western Africa A far away location or of extreme isolation.
The Vatican A small sovereign state surrounded by Rome, Italy The Holy See, and the Roman Catholic Church in general[60]
Wall Street A street in Manhattan, New York City The American financial markets[4] or "big business" more generally[42]
Washington Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States The federal government of the United States[1] or established career politicians[61]
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[62]
Whitehall A street in the City of Westminster borough of London The Civil Service of the United Kingdom, or more generally the Government of the United Kingdom; the term is often used in a similar context to "Westminster" (above)[62][63]
The White House The official residence of the President of the United States The Executive Office of the President of the United States (the President of the United States and their staff)[1]
Zhongnanhai A former imperial garden adjacent to an eponymous lake in central Beijing, now used as residences The leadership of the Chinese government[64]
Zion A mountain located in Israel The city of Jerusalem or the people associated with it[65]


  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.


  1. ^ a b c Traugott, Elizabeth Closs; Dasher, Richard B. (2002). Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-43115-6. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b Harris, Judith A. (1985). "Recognizing legal tropes: Metonymy as manipulative mode". The American University Law Review. 34: 1215–1229.
  3. ^ Safire, William (5 December 2008). "Synecdoche". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ruhl, Charles (1989). Acts of Arguing: A Rhetorical Model of Argument. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-1827-8. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  5. ^ Hogg, Richard M.; van Bergen, Linda (1998). Historical Linguistics 1995: Selected Papers from the 12th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Manchester, August 1995. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-3667-8. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  6. ^ Paprotté, Wolf; Dirven, René (1985). The Ubiquity of Metaphor: Metaphor in Language and Thought. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-3521-3. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b Killingsworth, M. Jimmie (2005). Appeals in Modern Rhetoric: An Ordinary-language Approach. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-8826-4. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  8. ^ Chandler, Daniel (2007). Semiotics: The Basics. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 1134324766.
  9. ^ Panther, Klaus-Uwe; Radden, Günter (1999). Metonymy in Language and Thought. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-2356-2. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  10. ^ Greisdorf, Howard; O'Connor, Brian. "Modelling what users see when they look at images: A cognitive viewpoint". Journal of Documentation. 58 (1): 6–30. doi:10.1108/00220410210425386.
  11. ^ Hood, Christopher (1998). The Art of the State : Culture, Rhetoric, and Public Management. Clarendon Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780191521126. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  12. ^ Hanks, Patrick (1 January 2013). Lexical Analysis: Norms and Exploitations. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01857-9. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  13. ^ Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, Francisco José; Pérez Hernández, Lorena (2003). "Cognitive operations and pragmatic implication". In Klaus-Uwe Panther, Linda L. Thornburg. Metonymy and Pragmatic Inferencing. John Benjamins. ISBN 978-90-272-5355-2. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  14. ^ Kovecses, Zoltan (2002). Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-988842-9. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  15. ^ Shankland, Stephen (2003-01-29). "IBM: Linux is the 'logical successor'". CNet. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  16. ^ Pomosrki, Chris (24 November 2014). "The Dragon's Den: Flashy Canadian Financier Takes Wing from Tribeca Pad for $4.08 M". The New York Observer. Retrieved 1 August 2015. It's easy to forget that before 'Wall Street' became a metonym for all things investment banking-related, in the United States and beyond, it was merely a narrow east-west thoroughfare eight blocks long. It's still that, of course, in addition to all the rest, and other cities in other countries have their own Wall Streets, as well. Located in downtown Toronto, Bay Street represents Canada's equivalent.
  17. ^ Weiner, Richard (2006). The Skinny about Best Boys, Dollies, Green Rooms, Leads, and Other Media Lingo: The Language of the Media. Random House Reference. ISBN 978-0-375-72147-2.
  18. ^ ""EU Governments Must Decide on New Russia Sanctions, Brussels Says"". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  19. ^ Geeraerts, Dirk; Cuyckens, Herbert (2010). The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford University Press. pp. 237–38. ISBN 9780199738632. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  21. ^ Swayne, Samuel (2013). Coast to Coast Road Trip USA with Young Children. Grosvenor House Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 9781781481844.
  22. ^ Chandler, Daniel (2007). Semiotics: The Basics. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-134-32476-7.
  23. ^ Berstler, Brenda (2007). Home Plate: The Culinary Road Trip of Cooperstown. Savor New York. ISBN 978-0-9796802-0-5. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Detroit, MI". Forbes. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  25. ^ Solesbury, William (2013). World Cities, City Worlds: Explorations With Metaphors, Icons And Perspectives. Troubadour Publishing Ltd. p. 101. ISBN 9781783060085. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  26. ^ Throgmorton, James A. (1996). Planning as Persuasive Storytelling: The Rhetorical Construction of Chicago's Electric Future. University of Chicago Press. p. 50. ISBN 9780226799636. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  27. ^ Lauren Laverne, "When the high street meets the internet", The Observer, London, 6 October 2013. Retrieved on 3 January 2014.
  28. ^ "Definition of Foggy Bottom". The American Heritage Dictionary. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  29. ^ a b Arimitsu, Nami (2015). "Analisando a Colocação da Metonímia ("THE PLACE FOR THE EVENT") Objetivando Atenuação de Situações Negativas". Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada. 15: 475–502. doi:10.1590/1984-639820156138.
  30. ^ Bosco, David. "How to Avoid Getting Hauled Before The Hague". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  31. ^ Banda, Mabvuto (17 May 2017). "Malawi plans to take lake dispute with Tanzania to The Hague". Business Day. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  32. ^ "The Guardian view on checking abuse of public power: after Hillsborough, count the value, not the cost". The Guardian. The Guardian. 27 April 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  33. ^ Higgins, Michael (2016). "Putting the Nation in the News: the Role of Location Formulation in a Selection of Scottish Newspapers". Discourse & Society. 15: 633–648. doi:10.1177/0957926504045035.
  34. ^ Wall, Mike. "Johnson Space Center (JSC): NASA's 'Houston'". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  35. ^ Zantovské Murray, Irena. "Our Slav Acropolis: Language and Architecture in the Prague Castle under Masaryk". McGill University. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  36. ^ Thomas Molony (1 June 2014). Nyerere: The Early Years. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-1-84701-090-2.
  37. ^ The Ministry, Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  38. ^ Zak, Dan (5 February 2012). "K Street: The route of all evil, or just the main drag?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  39. ^ (in Maltese) "Deputat tal-PN tallega li hemm 'direct link' bejn Kastilja u l-MEPA". 16 June 2015. Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  40. ^ Lakoff, George (2008). "Metonymic models". Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. University of Chicago Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-226-47101-3. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  41. ^ Knight, Gladys L. (2014). Pop Culture Places: An Encyclopedia of Places in American Popular Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 484. ISBN 9780313398834. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  42. ^ a b Lempert, Michael; Silverstein, Michael (2012). Creatures of Politics: Media, Message, and the American Presidency. Indiana University Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-253-00745-3.
  43. ^ "History of The Old Bailey Courthouse". Old Bailey History. Old Bailey. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  44. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  45. ^ "Legacy of a People's Park". Education Portal. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  46. ^ "French Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Directorate of Economic and Financial Affairs". Global Hand. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  47. ^ Gungey, Ergin. "The Loop (Stanford)". Bay Area Mountain Bike Roads. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  48. ^ "What Makes a Savile Row Suit?". Birchbox. July 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  49. ^ Newton, Stephen Leslie (1992). German/English Lexicographical Contrasts: City, Queen (quean), Yard. University of California, Berkeley. p. 75.
  50. ^ Hinton, Laura (2016). Jayne Cortez, Adrienne Rich, and the Feminist Superhero: Voice, Vision, Politics, and Performance in U.S. Contemporary Women's Poetics. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4985-2874-0.
  51. ^ Ledbetter, James (2003). Starving to Death on $200 Million: The Short, Absurd Life of The Industry Standard. PublicAffairs. p. 251. ISBN 9781586481292. Retrieved 11 June 2015. I doubt that many people among the Standards Silicon Valley readership would recognize that 'Seventh Avenue' is code for the fashion industry
  52. ^ Dempsey, Luke, ed. (2012). Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Bits : Complete and Annotated. Black Dog & Leventhal. p. 601. ISBN 9781579129132. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  53. ^ "The New Start-up Scene: From Silicon Strip to Silicon Mitten". 19 December 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  54. ^ Michael Bachelard, Feeling the heat The Age, 25 July 2010
  55. ^ "May's plan to give Stormont a backstop veto enrages EU envoys". The Guardian (UK newspaper). 24 September 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  56. ^ Christopher H. Johnson; David Warren Sabean; Simon Teuscher; Francesca Trivellato (15 August 2011). Transregional and Transnational Families in Europe and Beyond: Experiences Since the Middle Ages. Berghahn Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-85745-184-2.
  57. ^ Wadenström, Rolf. "Innocent Metaphors and Less Innocent Ones". Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  58. ^ Dreiser, Theodore (2004). A Traveler at Forty. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02913-4.
  59. ^ Suisman, David (2012). Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music. Harvard University Press. p. 21. ISBN 9780674054684. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  60. ^ Moore, Dee (25 April 2011). "Vatican Ordered to Release Records for Sex-Abuse Case". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  61. ^ "Cruz: Trump is not 'gonna be the nominee'".
  62. ^ a b "The Virtual Classroom Glossary of Literary Terms". Faculty of English: Classroom. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  63. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  64. ^ Lockwood, Robert (2012). A Dragon Defanged. Xilibris Corporation. p. 303. ISBN 9781479743827. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  65. ^ Rom-Shiloni, Dalit (2013). Exclusive Inclusivity: Identity Conflicts Between the Exiles and the People who Remained (6th-5th Centuries BCE). A&C Black. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-567-12244-5.