Use Figures of Speech Like Metonymy and Synecdoche

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Brian's Writing Tip #49: Use Metonymy and Synecdoche

Most of us know about simile, metaphor, and hyperbole, but there are lots of lesser-known figures of speech that good writers put to use. Two of these are metonymy and synecdoche. Metonymy is when something is referred to indirectly using a word closely associated with it. If you say “the prince coveted the crown” you probably mean he coveted what the crown represents: the kingship. When we use “the White House” as shorthand for the President and his aides or American leadership in general, we are using metonymy. Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy. It’s when part of something is used to represent the whole. When we refer to “talking heads,” “hungry mouths to feed” or “helping hands,” we are using particular body parts to represent whole people. That’s synecdoche.

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Brian Wasko

Brian Wasko

Brian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.

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