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America for United States of America[edit]

This is not a synecdoche, it is an abbreviation of the full phrase.

North America and South America taken together are "the Americas", not "America".

Further note that that is the only country in the world with "America" in its official name, so it isn't even an ambiguous abbreviation (let alone an arrogant one, as has frequently been charged elsewhere on the web).

The claim of "America" as a synecdoche appears to be influenced by that latter NPOV myth, but in any case, it's incorrect. Dougmerritt (talk) 02:09, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

America could indeed refer to the continent - it would only be 'the Americas' if North and South America are considered separate continents (and there is simply no answer as to what counts as a continent, or how many continents there are). That the 'later' (of yours) is an NPOV myth is would seem to be itself NPOV - just one side in a debate. - (talk) 17:54, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

How about when people refer to "The States" to refer to the USA? quite common, and I think that qualifies as a synecdoche Ottawakismet (talk) 16:54, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Synecdoche vs. metonymy[edit]

I need to do some research before I make any changes here, but I believe it is incorrect to say that Synecdoche is a form of Metonymy. Though closely related, I believe they are distinct figures of speech.

A Metonymy replaces the (dare I say) literal with something associated with the literal, vis:(this statement is close yet merly true, a metonymy substitutes a symbol for whole synechdoche in other words a part of a whole.)lets just say the idea is correct but the phrasement had been a little off.

"Can I have another cup?" When you are asking for more coffee.

"Nice mouth!" When you are retorting the cuss words used in a flame.

A Synecdoche, by contrast, replaces the (here I go again) literal with (basically) either a part of the something, or the whole class to which the something belongs. Vis:

Part put for whole: "His feet are swift to shed blood." More than his feet are at fault for his evil ways; he is.

Whole put for part: "Everyone hates her." In truth, only the speaker and perhaps the speaker's friends, from among the inhabitants of the whole earth, hate her.


A slightly clearer use of synechdoche is the literal sense: "All hands on deck!", etc. Without needing a lot of interpretation, etc., this makes things a bit easier to follow, I think; good way to extend it deeper, though. user:zarquan42

Ten-Four. "All hands on deck" is a great Synecdoche! It is a better example to illustrate the figure of speech too, when a part is put for the whole. A part, the crewmen's "hands" are put figuratively to represent the crewmen.

"His feet are swift to shed blood" contains at least one more figure, a type of Metonymy called Metalepsis or Double Metonymy, where "to shed blood" is put for "to kill" or "to murder." Multiple figures make the statement deeper, but too complex when trying to isolate a good example of a single figure.

Bullinger bears looking at on the subject of Synecdoche. His Figures of Speech Used in the Bible identifies 4 types: 1) Synecdoche of the genus, 2) Synecdoche of the species, 3) Synecdoche of the whole, and 4) Synecdoche of the part. user:jstanley01

I'd call the cup question an ellipsis, and the everyone indefinite. lysdexia 00:28, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Another good example is "Lend me your ears" Calling someone to listen. "Give me a hand" also works. A whole person is needed to help, not just a hand.

Baseball bats...[edit]

Baseball bats are made of ash, not hickory. Knife handles are made of hickory.

--Kelly Martin 05:04, Jan 9, 2005 (UTC)

Not metonymy[edit]

I agree that synecdoches should not be listed as a form of metonymy (aka similies are a form of metaphors). They are related but represent two distinct forms of reference rather than one being a superset of the other. yes its true that the synecdoche is a part of a metonymy, yet we could better say that the metonymy has a synechdohe integrated. Wikipedia is not an opinion page, OP. No one cares what you agree with.

Definitely Not metonymy[edit]

not only do I agree with the assertion that it is not metonymy, but i have compelling evidence. As an AP English student, I have had to deal with all of these English terms (ex: synecdoche, alliteration, anaphora, etc.). The teachers have given me several of these packets, and metonymy is listed as being similar to synecdoche, but not the same. However, synecdoche is called a type of metaphor, I am going to make that change, and if anyone can contradict me on this then please e-mail me at



In reference to the second example of metonymy here listed. There is nothing literal about a "nice mouth" being associated with a word that has a subjective value attached to it. That sentence, my friend, enters into the field of metaphor.

Synecdoches are a form of metonymy. The figure of speach that uses "A part for the whole" is a type of metonymy. Metaphor is something completely different! For information about this subject, you can refer to books that explain extensively about the relationship and difference between the two by professor G. Lakoff, of the University of California, Berkeley.

Right now the article is inconsistent. In one case synecdoche is a subset of metonymy, in another it's similar to metonymy. I don't care, but those who do are advised to back up their position with credible sources. If credible sources exist for both positions, that's fine--state that some sources consider it a subset and others consider it merely similar. - PhilipR (talk) 18:11, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Bad examples[edit]

I don't think using a brand to refer to the general product (such as kleenex for facial tissue) is really a synecdoche. It may have the form of a synecdoche, refering to the genus with the species, but it is not used as a figure of speech, at least not usually. When I ask for a kleenex, there is no special emphasis or figuarative meaning; I am doing just that, asking for a kleenex, with the socially implied understanding that any other facial tissue will do just as well. CyborgTosser (Only half the battle) 23:13, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I also don't think "Milk" when referring to "Cow's Milk" is synecdoche. If it were, then all language would be synecdoche. One could always add greater specificity to what one is describing. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Several of the examples on this page are not examples of what is described by the definition on the page. Either the definition is wrong, or these are not example of synecdoche:

"body" for the trunk of the body

This is just an example of a word having more than one related meaning. It certainly isn't a methaphor of any description.

"the police" for a handful of officers

This is simply an example of corporate identity. If a policeman makes a statement in his official capacity it and someone said "the police said x today" then this is would be a metaphor, but it would be one of personification (ie "the whole police force expressed this by one of them speaking"), rather than one where an individual speaking was refered to as the whole (not "an individual whom I call "the police" actually said these words").

"milk" for cow's milk

Laughable! If I say "pass me that jug of milk" I am not trying to express "pass me that jug of cows milk" and no one interpreting what was actally being said could ever take that meaning from it. If the jug of milk I am pointing to is cow's milk, then yes, I am refering to a jug of cow's milk, but I am simply choosing to not describe it as such.

"copper" for penny

This without doubt evolved from an example of synecdoche, but now is just another example of a word with more than one meaning.

"kleenex" for facial tissue

Not a metaphor. This is a brand name which has moved into common usage with a meaning of its own.

Any comments, or should I just remove these? TomViza 22:50, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

I think you can remove most of them, but the ones that were at one point synecdoches should probably be moved into a special section, together with White House for the U.S. presidential administration, Crown for a government with a royal family (e.g., in the phrase property of the Crown), and any other terms that were once synecdoches but are now dead metaphors (or idioms, or new meanings) rather than true figures of speech. I think they'd be helpful for illustrating the term with familiar examples, but it needs to be made clear that they're no longer perfect examples. Ruakh 23:18, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Good example: THE Prohibition (for Americans)[edit]

I´ve added a common example of the rare synecdoche of the whole-for-part type: in the United States they call a local prohibition of certain drugs (alcoholic) from 1919 to 1933, The Prohibition. Drcaldev 08:27, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

But that's not actually an example of totum pro parte (the whole for the part). If Prohibition were a big thing that prohibited lots of things besides just alcohol, and the term "Prohibition" were often used to refer to just one part of it, the prohibition of alcohol, then it would be; as it is, it's just using a general term as a proper noun with a specific meaning. If we accept your example, then simply using "the U.S." to mean the U.S.A. would be synecdoche. Ruakh 14:45, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, some genius apparently decided "America" (the common name for the nation) was, too. However, there is no continent called America so there's nothing "greater" to even be claimed as a substitution. Not to mention that "America" being used to mean "The United States of America" is exactly identical to "Germany" being used to refer to "The Federal Republic of Germany". (talk) 00:11, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
  • If you read about it, you will find that´s precisely the point. See |Prohibition. Alcohol is part of the drugs, therefore to say "prohibition" (totum) for "prohibition of X drug in X country" (parte) is a clear and so common synecdoche, people resist to accept it as such. See Talk:Prohibition. Drcaldev 15:36, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had political/POV reasons for objecting to the specialized use of the term "Prohibition", and that you were trying to label it synecdoche in the hopes of convincing Wikipedians to consider it imprecise and to stop using it. Now that I know that, I can point out that synecdoche is not always imprecise, and that imprecision is not always synecdochic, so your edit here doesn't really help your POV-pushing: even if you convinced your fellow editors that our use of the term Prohibition were synecdochic, that wouldn't stop them from using it. (I suppose next you'll object that Wikipedia shouldn't use the phrase "Reconstruction" in referring to the period after the American Civil War, nor "Second Empire" to refer to the time of Napolean III, nor "Warring States Period" to refer to China after the fall of the Han, since there have been other reconstructions, other second empires, and other periods of warring states?) Ruakh 05:52, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Well... you tempt me. I do like your objections. What´s your defense against them?

  • I´m mostly concerned with logic and disambiguation. A bunch of prohibitionists harrasses me with their intent to hawkypedize wikipedia.

Would you like to vote (as you please) on the Talk:Prohibition request for redirecting the page to a neutral Prohibition (disambiguation)? Drcaldev 05:57, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, there are two separate issues. Some terms have common, well-defined meanings in certain contexts, such that it's perfectly reasonable to use them without qualification in an article where that context is clear. This doesn't necessarily mean that they make good article titles, however, because they might have different common, well-defined meanings in different contexts (e.g., "Middle Kingdom" is both a period in Ancient Egyptian History, after the Old Kingdom but before the New Kingdom, and a term for Ancient China's view of itself; as it happens, Middle Kingdom is a disambiguation page, listing both those and some less common uses of the phrase), or because they might have poorly-defined meanings when there is no context. Now, it's definitely reasonable to use the term "Prohibition", with a capital P and no other qualification, in an article pertaining to U.S. history or culture; at least 95% of the time that the term "Prohibition" is used in the U.S., it means either the time period that there was a Constitution ban on alcohol, or the ban itself. (The only other time I've encountered it is when Libertarians are explaining why they oppose anti-drug laws; they refer to these laws collectively as Prohibition, in a clear attempt to compare them to Prohibition in the usual sense and suggest that they have the same failing.) I don't know how the term is used in other countries, though, so don't really feel comfortable voting at that page. Ruakh 06:29, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Reworking of the examples[edit]

I thought I understood synechdoche from the definition, but the examples left me more than confused. Is anyone opposed to listing the examples in their full form - i.e. so the reader has their context? To me, it is difficult to imagine how "white hair" is used to indicate the elderly with no context, however, it's very easy if a full sentence is provided: "We ran past all the white hairs in the grocery store. (white hair = elderly)" 18:20, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

I did what I could. The problem is, a lot of the examples aren't very good. Some are well established (like milk, hands, head; they may have originated in synecdoche, I'm not sure, but now they're simply alternative senses, and in the case of milk the putatively-synecdochic sense is much more common than the more general sense). Others aren't exactly synecdoche (I removed "Pentagon" for "top Pentagon officials", as I think it's clearly non-synecdochic metonymy, but I left in some more borderline examples, such as "Judas" for "traitor", which I think is best seen as an ordinary metaphor). Ruakh 20:52, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Heh, I never actually made my intended point, which is that instead of using made-up-but-plausible examples that people might see in everyday life, we should take examples from actual poetic sources. The "bread" for "food" example, for example, could use one of the Biblical "Man does not live by bread alone, but by the Word of G-d"-style passages (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, or Luke 4:4). Ruakh 21:03, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
I completely agree. Some real-world examples would also give this article some notes/ 22:55, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

I make a mean burrito...[edit]

Would someone claiming to make "a good pizza" be a synecdoche? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 06:58, 5 February 2007 (UTC).

You mean, saying "I make a good pizza" to mean "I make good pizzas" (i.e., "Pizzas that I make are good")? No, I don't think so; I think it's just a use of the generic singular, as in "An apple doesn't fall far from the tree", "A golden retriever is a kind of dog", and so on. —RuakhTALK 08:32, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
In Metaphors We Live By, by Lakoff and Johnson, the example "The automobile is clogging our highways" (italics in original) is used as a synecdoche (ch. 8, p.36 in the 2003 edition). Is this a "generic singular" or a synecdoche? Timetrial3141592 (talk) 14:59, 7 April 2008 (UTC)


"Cunt". Is it a synecdoche. Discuss. 12:09, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

No, because it can apply to anyone, not just women, and thus doesn't fall into any of the given categories. I'm removing "coarse anatomical term" because I believe these are not synecdoches (they might be metaphors, though). —Ashley Y 01:10, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
Oh god. I must of been pretty drunk when I posted that. My apoplogies! (talk) 12:02, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Citation of Examples[edit]

I feel that the examples given for synecdoches (and indeed all figures of speech, etc.) should be backed up with examples quoted from specific texts. Given that it is a recognised and used figure of speech, it can't be hard to find examples of synecdoches throughout English (and foreign) literature. I'm not going to change anything, but I will suggest a couple of examples:

  • "bronze shall mingle with bronze" (Herodotus' Histories, book 8, paragraph 77) used to represent swords clashing - there will be many other similar examples of steel/bronze/iron clashing with steel/bronze/iron, used for the same purpose;
  • "cunt" used in Henry Miller's book Tropic of Cancer (and, although I don't know for sure, I imagine in his other works) to mean a woman - n.b. I've read the discussion below about the use of "cunt" as a synecdoche, and I think that now it is no longer used in this way, but that Miller definitely did use it in as a synecdoche, so it is a valid example;
  • "give us this day our daily bread" from The Lord's Prayer uses "bread" to mean "food" in general.

People may disagree with me, but I just believe that it is better to cite examples from printed works, rather than making them up for ourselves. If there are no disagreements, I may make the changes myself at some point in the future. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 14:51, 31 May 2007 (UTC).

Sounds good. :-)   —RuakhTALK 16:50, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

'The Press'[edit]

'The Press' is a somewhat confusing example as in the usage suggested there is an element of metonymy as well as synecdoche - synecdoche in that 'The Press' is only a section of the media, but then even that's been unravelled, it's also metonymy in that 'The Press' (the printing press) is being used to refer to the editorial staff.

In any case, I'd say this meaning of 'press', which might have been a figure of speech to start with, is now just a matter of straight definition and no longer a matter of rhetoric. What figure of speech is 'press' in the phrase 'getting a bad press'?

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 15:32, 6 September 2007 (UTC)


The use of hands for sailors in the page's example seems to depend on the meaning hands as a body part. But I think the hands it refers to are persons within the meaning of hired hands (clearly a synecdoche). If so, then hands in the example refers to persons, not body parts. So, should the example stand? If synecdoche may apply simultaneously to one meaning of a word (the part) and also to other meanings (the wholes [synecdoches themselves]) of the same word, then the example is suitable. Or, does it apply to only to the part, but not to any whole created (synechdochishly?) from it? If the latter, then one must, before correctly using the example, consider which is the chicken and which are the eggs — are they referring to body parts, a term derived from therefrom or a term derived from the latter. That would be a can of worms to say the least, but it's a fair question.

"A ship carrying a cargo of artificial hands was lost with all prostheses." CampKohler (talk) 23:19, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Better totum pro partem examples?[edit]

I'm quite unhappy with the current examples. "Use your head" isn't really a synecdoche at all, merely a statement that could be made more precise by restricting it to "brain"; "Michigan passed a law" appears to me to use "Michigan" as the name for a legal entity, the state of Michigan, also not a synecdoche; the other two, while possibly better examples, should be used in a sentence.

I think that "totum pro parte" constructions actually tend to be considered incorrect in current English, and archaic or poetic at best. Could those who know more maybe provide a reference to a better explanation for why it's so rare?

I do think "New York" (the name of the five-boroughed city) is used occasionally to mean only the borough of Manhattan, or at least exclude Staten Island? "Korea", "China", and "Ireland" are difficult issues, but use for South Korea, the PRC, or the Republic of Ireland could qualify as totum pro partem. Similarly Europe for the EU.

Isn't there a good public domain list of examples we can steal?

RandomP (talk) 11:11, 10 July 2008 (UTC)


It needs to be made clear that it is INCORRECT to use the terms "England" and "United Kingdom" as though they mean the same thing. The same applies to the example of Russia and Serbia. My changes reflect this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

"England" is not an accepted short-hand for the United Kingdom. By contrast, "Great Britain" and "Britain" are accepted. See the official website of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for confirmation at —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:10, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

It does not matter if they are correct, accepted, or not. These are *misconceptions* and synecdoche is a form of wordplay, not something you do by accident. It can be done carelessly or in imitation without knowledge ("nice wheels and threads") but NOT simply as a result of ignorance "whatcha mean England isn't the UK, it is, I sawed it on teevee!" (talk) 00:26, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

An example of wrong term used is "Quisling" for teaitor: The more accurate label is "Quisling" for collaborator.MichaelWattam (talk) 20:01, 25 December 2008 (UTC)MichaelWattam

The "Throne" and the "Crown" of England.[edit]

Are these Synecdoches?

Though the Queen is coronated on St. Edward's Chair, there actually exist several physical chairs that serve as the "throne of England". Same goes for the English "Crown", which too is not a single object.

Yet both are ALWAYS referred to in the singular (except in those rare instances where one might actually be speaking of them as physical objects). In common parlance, when one uses these terms, one is most likely using them not to refer to any physical object, but to refer to the Monarchy itself.

Are "The Throne" or "The Crown" of England (or any Monarchy for that matter) Synochdoches? (talk) 14:12, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Whether Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom owns more than one of the fancy metal Queen hats isn't the point, the term "the Crown" is used in such a way (to refer to the government, the prosecution in a criminal case or crown attorney) that this couldn't be anything but figurative. It'd be most awkward if she were expected to use the local district attorney as headgear. :) (talk) 16:27, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Google is not an example of synecdoche[edit]

The verb "google" is not an example of synecdoche because the verb only describes using the Google search engine to find information on the internet. Googling can not be used "as a verb for searching on the Internet," it can only be used as a verb for searching the internet using the Google search engine. The verb does not employ a specific word for a more general meaning. It is a specific word used with a specific meaning.

Merriam-Webster defines google as: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web Definition: 1. to search for information about a specific person through the Google search engine. 2. to search for information on the Internet, esp. using the Google search engine

Oxford English Dictionary as reported by intr. To use the Google search engine to find information on the Internet. trans. To search for information about (a person or thing) using the Google search engine. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kawa1888 (talkcontribs) 05:03, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

The use of the verb "google" to mean "searching on the Internet" is not synecdoche, it's just a perfect example of a genericized trademark. (talk) 23:08, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Rome has declared...[edit]

How would you classify the use of "Rome" in it's reference to the Vatican (which is a nation-state within a city) in it's religious role (i.e. not as a nation-state)? It's somewhat analogous to the "'Albany' passed a law." Caisson 06 (talk) 21:23, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

For that matter, we keep hearing that "Queen's Park" has done one thing or another to waste more Ontario taxpayers' dollars. Ok, there's an oversize traffic circle (Queen's Park Crescent) in Toronto, the large round space enclosed by that circle is parkland, and then plopped right into the middle of this bit of Ontario urban parkland is the actual provincial legislature building. So it's the park grounds themselves, not the provincial parliament in the centre of this mess, that keep squandering billions of my tax dollars on overpaid consultants? Crying shame, that, I'd think one groundskeeper would suffice.
And then there's "Big Ben" in Westminster... apparently a reference not to the entire clock tower on the legislature or even the clock itself, but to one large bell housed within it. -- (talk) 16:16, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Scotland = whisky?[edit]

"I took a sip of Scotland"?? Who on earth says that? Flapdragon (talk) 03:34, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

It sounds like it would make a great advertising slogan, but a web search for this only leads back to this page or its mirrors... dunno. (talk) 16:18, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Wiki for Wikipedia?[edit]

Is the use of the word "wiki" to refer to Wikipedia a valid example of general-as-specific synecdoche? One could argue that this is used by incorrectly by people who don't understand the wiki concept, but I have heard it used many times in groups of engineering students with full understanding of the metaphor. --Deeceeo (talk) 04:55, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Mudville Nine?[edit]

In the poem Casey at the Bat, the opening line reads:

"The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day"

Is "Nine" an example of synecdoche, using the number of players on the field as a figure for the entire baseball team (which would include much more than a number, including the players themselves, other players, a manager, etc.)? I can't think of what else it might be. Fool4jesus (talk) 17:46, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Wait a minute.. Etymology..[edit]

So.. the 'doche' part comes from the Greek for "I accept" ... so "okey-dokey" actually means what it means? not just reduplication? or is that just a coinky-dink?

john hancock is not a 'specific class'.[edit]

it's a specific thing. a lot of these example are suspect. I think synedoche is an important concept to lay out but some of the illustrations part-for-whole and whole-for-part are hinky. S*K*A*K*K 11:13, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I came here to post about several of the examples, but mostly "John Hancock." John Hancock is not an example of "a signature" that is used to refer to the class of signatures. He is not a signature at all. He is a person. Other examples that are bad:
  • "Bug" for any kind of insect or arachnid, even if it is not a true bug: A bug is a word that has meant a tiny insect-like creature since at least the 1620s. The scientific classification of a "true bug," Hemiptera is from 1758. And anyway, even there "true bug" itself is just a common term for that order, the naturalists weren't redefining the word "bug."
  • "barrel" for a barrel of oil, "keg" for a keg of beer: Can you find any uses for "barrel" that unambiguously only refers to the oil inside the barrel instead of the barrel itself? Ditto for keg. The only "keg" example that obviously refrs to the drink is "he drank the entire keg," but that brings me to my next one:
  • "he drank the cup", to refer to his drinking of the cup's contents: If I said "I need more matches, I've already finished the box" is that an example of a synecdoche? Or is it just referring to the amount of matches used? Similarly, "he drank a whole keg" or "he drank a cup" surely refers to the amount that he drank.
— Sam (talk) 17:36, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

John Hancock is language pretty much only used in the United States, even in Canada it has a foreign sound to the ear. Ottawakismet (talk) 16:52, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

XYZ Motors Inc.[edit]

Not sure if this is even worth mentioning (as any 'example' section gets too bloated here already) but __________ Motors in the name of manufacturers or dealers of complete vehicles? I suppose you could ask a General Motors or AMC dealer to sell just an engine on its own, but this is usually done only as a replacement part supply in support of GM's primary business - which is to sell a complete motorcar. (talk) 16:35, 1 March 2012 (UTC)


Not mentioned in the list of examples, but some of the most common, are sexual usages - 'a hot piece of ass', 'quality snatch', 'pussy magnet' etc. I don't know if this could, or should, be added to the article. - (talk) 18:03, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

"pussy magnet" could keep the semanticist busy for a while, I imagine... "magnet" as in "a simile for the physical action of the type of material exemplified by a certain type of mineral found in the land of the ancient Greek tribe of the Magnetes", and "pussy" in "the female pudenda, named metonymically for the cat, by way of a name that is used synecdochically after the sound used to attract a cat's attention, standing in pars pro toto for an attractive woman". Once you allow etymology and semantic shift, there is never any end to metonymy and synecdoche. Perhaps it should be a necessary definition that the figure is used for rhetorical effect. --dab (𒁳) 13:15, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

A Bad Example[edit]

It doesn't work to use, "a congregation as the church," since the congregation is neither a specific part of the church nor the church a part of the congragation. Rather, the church and the congregation are one and the same, making this not figurative at all but entirely literal. -- (talk) 14:07, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Ethnic propaganda crawls in[edit]

Historical: Livonia instead of medieval Estonia and Latvia. Of course there was Livonian as there were Livonian Chronicles, but there were no Latvian chronicles. Livonia is a proper historical term, Latvia is a 20th century post-Bolshevist invention and Estonia is a geographical concept separate from Livonia, that province of Estonia's borders do not correspond with those of late 20th century state of Estonia. This is a totally useless, inappropriate example that distorts the picture. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:51, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

What does this mean?[edit]

One of the examples says

  "An example of this could be referring to the world, when the speaker just means a certain country or part of the world."

Aside from the fact that the initial "the world" should be in quotes, as it is something said by someone, what exactly does this mean? It's not clear. The best I can come up with is, for example, "the US is out making the world safe for democracy", when in fact it's actually only blowing up one country, leaving countless other cruel dictatorships and brutal regimes untouched, if not receiving direct cash infusions from the US government and/or the CIA. Is that what the writer is getting at? Or, perhaps the phrase "the world wonders", which actually means "we/I wonder"? Not sure if that applies or not. I'm having a little trouble grasping this whole concept from the statements and examples given in this article; I am forced to the conclusion that the concept covers a very wide array of different things, since the examples given cover many very different situations and linguistic devices..45Colt 18:25, 8 September 2015 (UTC)


  " Petrarchan sonnet, where the idealised beloved is often described part by part, from head to toe"

How is this a synecdoche? I'm totally new to this concept, but this doesn't fit anything else the article has said so far; describing a persons features in poem form is not "using a part to represent the whole". It's description. The example given on the page on Petrachan sonnets is a poetic description of a young woman, giving a metaphor for each of her features (i.e. "your eyes are like stars", etc). That's just plain metaphor, isn't it? If it said "you are my star", or something, that would be different, but simply describing someones features, using metaphor, now matter how exaggerated, doesn't seem to me to fit the idea of synecdoche, unless this aricle is missing something important. If there are sonnets that actually employ synechdoche, it's not clear how from what it says in this article and the article on these sonnets..45Colt 18:39, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

Questioning the appropriateness of the examples[edit]

ISTM that the examples given are not part standing for a whole. "Bread and butter" are not part of everyone's diet, a "suit" or "boots" are not part of a human. I recognize that I am not a citable authority, so I am just bringing this up here, rather than changing the article. TomS TDotO (talk) 02:25, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Dbachmann proposed merging Pars pro toto with this article back in March, 2016. I noticed there had been no discussion, so I've created a section to allow for discussion of the merger. (I have no opinion either way.) Geoff | Who, me? 17:33, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

Kitty Genovese[edit]

"The Kitty Genovese case has long served as a synecdoche of bystander indifference." Is that an accurate use of the term? --Christofurio (talk) 15:37, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

  • I'd say that figuratively it makes sense but in terms of its grammatical usage it isn't accurate. No-one talks of bystander indifference as being "Kitty Genovese case", but they do refer to that case as being a classic example of bystander indifference (and also the one which kick-started the social psychology research into the subject). If I'd been writing the sentence I'd have preferred to say "The Kitty Genovese case has long served as an exemplar of bystander indifference." Grutness...wha? 12:15, 15 January 2017 (UTC)