Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A figure or trope by which a part of a thing is put for the whole, the whole for a part, the species for the genus, the genus for the species, or the name of the material for the thing made, and similar.
  • n. The use of synecdoche; synecdochy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A figure or trope by which a part of a thing is put for the whole (as, fifty sail for fifty ships), or the whole for a part (as, the smiling year for spring), the species for the genus (as, cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as, a creature for a man), the name of the material for the thing made, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In rhetoric, a figure or trope by which the whole of a thing is put for a part, or a part for the whole, as the genus for the species, or the species for the genus, etc.: as, for example, a fleet of ten sail (for ships); a master employing new hands (for workmen). Compare metonymy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. substituting a more inclusive term for a less inclusive one or vice versa

Etymologies

Middle English synodoches, from Medieval Latin synodoche, alteration of Latin synecdochē, from Greek sunekdokhē, from sunekdekhesthai, to take on a share of : sun-, syn- + ekdekhesthai, to understand (ek-, out of; + dekhesthai, to take).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin synecdoche, from Ancient Greek συνεκδοχή (sunekdokhe, "receiving together"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • I love the old Judy Garland flick, Metonymy St. Louis!

    January 2, 2009

  • I joked last week about wanting to see the new movie "Metonymy New York", but none of my friends got it.

    January 2, 2009

  • Ack, will I always have to keep learning? Won't I ever experience a sense of lasting satisfaction? Ok, just kidding, I guess. Kaufman was interviewed on The Colbert Report, only it seems the full episode has become rather unavailable at my destination for Colbert Nation procrastination...

    December 27, 2008

  • After learning about synecdoche in a literature class, I was so proud of my elitism in understanding it. Now, Kaufman's ruined everything.

    October 29, 2008

  • See also metonymy.

    October 12, 2007

  • See Erin McKean, lexicographer to the stars, using "synecdochial" here.

    September 28, 2007