April 15, 2013

Metonymy = M: Blogging from A to Z

M is making me maniacal. So many great literary devices to choose from: metaphor, motif, myth, melodrama, monologue, mood. Not to mention an important m word that many authors credit with their final works... muse.

Last year, one of my most popular A to Z posts was M: Mauling Malapropism. Malapropism is the absurd or humorous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound. The master is Yogi Berra.

Words, and the ability to manipulate them, fascinate me.

So, I decided this year to focus on metonymy.

When the name of one object replaces another object that is closely associated with it. It comes from the Greek word metōnymía, meaning “change of name.”

As writers, we understand and believe that "the pen is mightier than the sword." Does this mean we would head into war with a bunch of ball point pens? Absolutely not. However, many of us believe that the power of the written word is greater than pulling out a sword and fighting.

Consider the word heart. In its purest definition, it is a vital organ. However, as writers we give characters heart by infusing them with tenderness, love, and empathy.

The English language is beautifully complicated. When words are in the right hands, it's amazing how they can be manipulated to convey so many things. 

Other examples:
Silver fox - an attractive older man
Cougar - an aggressive woman who prefers younger men
White House - when reporters refer to "decisions made by the White House"
Ears - "lend me your ears"

It seems to me it would be an interesting showdown between a silver fox and a cougar under the circumstances above. In real terms, a cougar would win hands down.

What is your favorite example of metonymy?

Don't forget to check out some other amazing M posts here.


Unknown said...

Great post. I love rhetorical devices. Unfortunately it's early and my brain is still asleep. I can't think of any metonymys.

Dani said...

I love learning the meaning of what we do as writiers. Nice post. You taught me today!
Dani @ Entertaining Interests

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I love this one. I may just have to research and do a post on metonyms. :) Wonderful choice for M!

Jo Michaels said...

"The pen is mightier than the sword." My favorite example of this is Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. A book that changed the world.

If only more authors published books that made people think instead of consuming what's thrown at them and said to be gospel truth. What a world this would be!

My favorite example of metonymy is replacing sounds of items with sounds creatures make.
The car roared down the road.
My saw snarled as it cut down the tree.