Metonymy: A change of name  metonymy

Metonymy is a trope which puts the name of one thing for that of another connected with it.

Metonymy: A change of name

From English Composition and Rhetoric, by Alexander Bain;  English Composition by W. Davidson; Practical Rhetoric, by Albert Raub:

Metonymy consists in placing one word for another which does not express or define it, but is so associated with the other that the mind will think of the one when the other is mentioned.

I. Kinds of metonymy

A. Cause for effect

We have read Milton and Shakespeare.
That is, authors for writings.
Look at this man’s hand.
That is, at his writing.

B. Effect for cause

shade for trees; blood-letting for battle
Can gray hairs make folly respectable?
That is, gray hairs for age.
There is death in the pot.
That is, a poisonous herb that will cause death.

C. Container for thing contained

They smote the city.
“City is used instead of “the inhabitants of the city, i.e., the container for the thing contained.
The kettle boils.
So we say familiarly, but what is meant is that the water in the kettle boils.
France would not consent.
Meaning, the people of France would not consent.
The bottle is his worst enemy.
That is, the bottle instead of the contents.
A period of time is sometimes used for the production or events included (contained) in it. We hear of a good season, a successful voyage.

 D. Sign or symbol for thing signified

the crown or sceptre for royalty
red tape for the routine of office
sheathing the sword for peace 
The miser is a slave to his gold.

I.e., the miser is a slave to his money.
The pen civilizes the world.
That is, pen for literature or the spread of knowledge.
These signs and symbols are often more striking than the thing signified. In many instances, however, all that is sought or gained is variety of expression

E. Instrument for agent

Cowley says of Cromwell,
“He set up parliaments by the stroke of his pen, and scattered them with the breath of his mouth.”
The intention in the above sentence is to substitute for the hidden operations of the mind some outward and expressive action.

F. Material for thing made

He brandished the glittering steel.
That is, he brandished a sword.
Note: Synecdoche is a type of metonymy.

 II. Using metonymy

A. Use the known

In using metonymy, the name of a thing better known should be substituted for one that is less known. If this be not done, much of the beauty of the figure is lost.

B. Avoid the obscure

Avoid the use of names about which little is known. The average reader is not familiar with minor heroes of mythology or with obscure characters in history.

C. Metonymy is rarely used in scientific writing

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