What Is a Metonym? (with Examples)A metonym is a term used in place of a closely related term. For example, in the saying "The pen is mightier than the sword," "pen" is a metonym for communications (written text), and "sword" is a metonym for violence.
Easy Examples of Metonyms
- Tongue is a metonym for language.
- Sweat is a metonym for hard work.
- Capitol Hill supports the proposal. ("Capitol Hill" is a metonym for the American seat of government.)
- The top brass is contesting the cuts. ("Top brass" is a metonym for "the senior officers.")
Real-Life Examples of MetonymsMetonyms closely resemble metaphors, but the thing being represented by a metonym will be a close match. (A metonym is often an attribute of the thing it represents.)
- After college, he took to the bottle. ("The bottle" is a metonym for "alcohol.")
- This is not how it will be portrayed by Fleet Street. ("Fleet Street" is a metonym for the "British national press.")
- I've always kept my word, and my clients have always kept their word. (Civil litigator Robert Shapiro) ("Word" is a metonym for "promise.")
More Examples of MetonymsHere are some more examples of metonyms with their origins explained:
|Number 10||Number 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the UK's Prime Minister|
|The Kremlin||A Russian fortress or citadel|
|The White House||The official residence of the President of the United States|
|brass||A metal alloy historically used for military buttons and rank insignia|
|lead||A heavy metal used to make the head of a bullet|
|bench||The location in a courtroom where a judge sits|
Why Should I Care about Metonyms?Using metonyms is a good way to keep your writing interesting. It's also a good way of showing your readers that you trust them.
- Westminster will convene a special session to debate the visit. ("Westminster" is a metonym for "The Parliament of the United Kingdom." Using this metonym tells your readers that you trust them to know where UK's parliament is situated or to work it out from context.)
- "You can always trust that an audience is smarter than a studio thinks it is." (Film director Drew Goddard) ("Studio" is a metonym for "film makers," but, hey, you'd already worked that out.)