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.

General[edit]

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"

Places[edit]

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]

Notes[edit]

  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.

References[edit]

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