Synecdoche


Synecdoche

Synecdoche is taken from Greek "sinekdohi" (συνεκδοχή), meaning "simultaneous understanding" (PronEng|si-nek-duh-kee) (pronounced IPA|). a figure of speech in which:

* a term denoting a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing, or
* a term denoting a thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it, or
* a term denoting a specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, or
* a term denoting a general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class, or
* a term denoting a material is used to refer to an object composed of that material.

Etymology

The word "synecdoche" is derived from the Greek συνεκδοχή, from the prepositions συν- + εκ- and the verb -δέχομαι (accept), meaning originally the acceptance of a part of the responsibility for something.

Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy (the figure of speech in which a term denoting one thing is used to refer to a related thing); indeed, synecdoche is considered a subclass of metonymy. It is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as metaphor.

More rigorously, metonymy and synecdoche may be considered as sub-species of metaphor, intending metaphor as a type of conceptual substitution (as Quintilian does in "Institutio oratoria" Book VIII). In Lanham's "Handlist of Rhetorical Terms" p. 189 the three terms have somewhat restrictive definitions, arguably in tune with a certain interpretation of their etymologies from Greek:

* "metaphor": changing a word from its literal meaning to one not properly applicable but analogous to it; assertion of identity rather than, as with simile, likeness.
* "metonymy": substitution of cause for effect, proper name for one of its qualities, or vice versa.
* "synecdoche": substitution of a part for whole, genus for species, or vice versa.

Use

The use of synecdoche is a common way to emphasize an important aspect of a fictional character; for example, a character might be consistently described by a single body part, such as the eyes, which come to represent the character. This is often used when the main character does not know or care about the names of the characters that he/she is referring to.

Also, sonnets and other forms of love poetry frequently use synecdoches to characterize the beloved in terms of individual body parts rather than a whole, coherent self. This practice is especially common in the Petrarchan sonnet, where the idealised beloved is often described part by part, from head to toe.

Examples

* Examples where a part of something is used to refer to the whole:
** "The ship was lost with all "hands" [sailors] ."
** "His parents bought him a new "set of wheels" [car] ."
** Similarly, "mouths to feed" for hungry people, "white hair" for an elderly person, "the press" for news media.
** For nations, "Britain", "Great Britain" (that is, the largest of the British Isles) or "England" is sometimes incorrectly used to mean the entire United Kingdom, as is "Holland" for the Netherlands or as "Russia" (formerly) was for the Soviet Union. From 1992 to 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was commonly called "Serbia" due to the political and cultural dominance of Serbia within the state.
* Examples where the whole of something is used to refer to a part of it:
** "Use your "head" [brain] to figure it out."
** "Michigan" [the government of Michigan] just passed a law addressing this problem."
** Similarly, "body" for the trunk of the body, the "smiling year" for spring.
* Examples where a species (specific kind) is used to refer to its genus (more general kind):
** "The "cutthroats" [assassins] there will as soon shoot a man as look at him."
** "Could you pass me a "Kleenex" [facial tissue] ?"
** "I've just finished with the "hoover" [vacuum cleaner] ."
** Similarly, "coke" for pop/soda, "castle" for home, "meat" or "bread" for food, "Judas" for traitor.
* Examples where the material from which an object is made is used to refer to the object itself:
** "Those are some nice "threads" [clothes] ."
** Similarly, "willow" for cricket bat, "copper" for penny, "roof" for a house, "boards" for stage, "ivories" for piano keys, "plastic" for credit card, "the hardwood" for a gym floor, "pigskin" for football, "steel" for a sword, "lead" for a bullet and "rubber" for vehicle tires.

ee also

* Conceptual metaphor
* Figure of speech
* Metonymy
* Pars pro toto
* Totum pro parte
* Hendiadys

References


*

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External links

* [http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/S/synecdoche.htm Synecdoche] from [http://rhetoric.byu.edu/ Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric]


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  • Synecdoche — Syn*ec do*che (s[i^]n*[e^]k d[ o]*k[ e]), n. [L. synecdoche, Gr. synekdochh , fr. to receive jointly; sy n with + ? to receive; ? out + ? to receive.] (Rhet.) A figure or trope by which a part of a thing is put for the whole (as, fifty sail for… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • synecdoche — [si nek′də kē] n. [LME, altered (infl. by L) < synodoche < ML sinodoche, for L synecdoche < Gr synekdochē, lit., a receiving together < synekdechesthai, to receive together < syn , together + ekdechesthai, to receive < ek , from …   English World dictionary

  • synecdoche — ou synecdoque (si nèk do k ) s. f. Figure par laquelle on prend le genre pour l espèce, ou l espèce pour le genre, le tout pour la partie, ou la partie pour le tout. Exemples : une voile pour un navire ; les flots pour la mer ; l airain pour les… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • synecdoche — pronounced si nek dǝ kee, is a figure of speech in which a more inclusive term is used for a less inclusive one or vice versa, as in England came out to bat (England more inclusive for ‘the England team’) and a fleet of fifty sail (sail less… …   Modern English usage

  • synecdoche — ► NOUN ▪ a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, as in England lost by six wickets (meaning ‘the English cricket team’). ORIGIN Greek sunekdokh , from sun together + ekdekhesthai take up …   English terms dictionary

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  • SYNECDOCHE — ou SYNECDOQUE. s. f. Figure par laquelle on fait entendre le plus en disant le moins, ou le moins en disant le plus ; on prend le genre pour l espèce, ou l espèce pour le genre, le tout pour la partie, ou la partie pour le tout. Cent voiles pour… …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

  • synecdoche — synecdochic /sin ik dok ik/, synecdochical, adj. synecdochically, adv. /si nek deuh kee/, n. Rhet. a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part, the special for the general or the general for the special, as in …   Universalium


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