Meaning of Synecdoche

What is Synecdoche:

A synecdoche is a literary figure that consists of the designation of one thing by the name of another. In this sense, it operates in a similar way to metonymy.

Specifically, the synecdoche applies in the following cases to designate:

  • The whole for the part: "The country had a commendable performance in the General Assembly of the United Nations", instead of "The country's diplomatic delegation had a commendable performance in the General Assembly of the United Nations"
  • The part for the whole: "At home you have four mouths to feed", rather than "at home you have four people to feed."
  • The species by gender: "Man destroys himself with wars", instead of saying: "the human being destroys himself with wars."
  • Gender by species: "He rode the beast with great authority," instead of "rode the horse with great authority.
  • The thing by the material it is made of: "He knew how to wield steel like a master" instead of "he knew how to wield the sword like a master."

The synecdoche, as such, is a rhetorical figure of thought. It is used both in literary discourse (narrative, poetry, drama, essay) and in colloquial language spontaneously.

The word synecdoche, as such, comes from the Latin synecdŏche, and this in turn from the Greek συνεκδοχή (synekdochḗ), which derives from συνεκδέχεσθαι (synekdéchesthai), which means 'receive together'.

Examples of synecdoches

  • The team has eleven pairs of fresh legs.
  • He was a mere mortal faced with the evil of the world.
  • A pair of eyes followed her out of the bar.
  • The police had put a check on the place.
Tags:  Expressions-Popular Science Expressions-In-English