Totum pro parte

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Totum pro parte is Latin for "the whole for a part"; it refers to a kind of synecdoche. The plural is tota pro partibus, "wholes for parts". When used in a context of language it means that something is named after something of which it is only a part (or only a limited characteristic, in itself not necessarily representative for the whole). A pars pro toto (in which a part is used to describe the whole) is the opposite of a totum pro parte.[1]

In geography[edit]

Some placenames of large areas are commonly used to refer synonymously to a smaller part of the larger area than is strictly deemed correct. Examples of this include:

Other examples[edit]

The verb "to drink" is often used in this manner. Depending on context it can stand for the generic, standard definition "to consume a liquid" (e.g. "I'm thirsty, is there anything to drink?") or for the narrow, limited definition "to imbibe alcoholic beverages" (e.g. "He goes out to drink too often"). Also, fluid can be used for liquid, as in brake fluid or bodily fluid. (The presence of air, a fluid, is not wanted when there is low fluid.)

The "Internet" for the "World Wide Web" (the Internet is a network of computer networks, whereas the WWW is a network of hypertext documents that one accesses via the Internet)

When someone asks, "Is it a PC or a Mac?", they are actually asking whether it's a PC running the Windows operating system, or one of a line of PCs made by Apple called a Mac. A PC is in fact any computer used for personal purposes, and can effectively be running one of many different operating systems.

In the United States, Congress frequently refers to the United States House of Representatives, which is but one of two houses of the United States Congress, the other being the United States Senate. Also, the House. And congressman or congresswoman means "member of the House (of Representatives)".

An athletic team is often called by the name of the whole (e.g. a city, country or organization) it represents:

  • "Go Navy: beat Army" (a cheer for the team representing the United States Naval Academy in a contest against the team representing the United States Military Academy)
  • "Houston will be in New York this weekend"
  • "Russia thrashed the Czech Republic" (the Russia national football team defeated the Czech Republic national football team).

See also[edit]