S is for Synecdoche | #AtoZChallenge


A figure of speech in which the part is made to represent the whole, or vice-versa.

Synecdoche is a subclass of metonymy where a whole represents a part (“Edmonton” represents the Oilers hockey team), a part represents a whole (“wheels” represent a car), or the material used to make an object represents the whole object (“plastic” represents a credit card).

With metonymy, the part that is used to represent the whole is not part of the whole.

(Source: Journal #6 Topic: Metonymy vs. Synecdoche, TeacherWeb.com PDF)

The word synecdoche comes from Greek syn- (“together”) and ekdochē (“interpretation”). Read more on its use in poetry and Shakespeare here (Merriam-Webster), with some excellent examples here (SoftSchools).

GIF from giphy.com

Examples of synecdoche

  • Edmonton won in overtime. (“Edmonton” represents Edmonton’s hockey team, the Oilers.)
  • Like my new wheels? (“Wheels” are a part of a car used to represent the whole car.)
  • Lend me a hand. (Means “Help me out,” where a hand is a part of the person.)
  • She is the breadwinner. (Means main income earner, where “bread” represents food in general or money.)
  • Teaching is my bread and butter.
  • I paid with plastic. (Paid with a credit card, which is made of plastic.)
  • Ten sail left yesterday. (Refers to ten ships. Sails are parts of the ships.)
  • The farmer has 200 head. (“Head” represents the whole cattle.)

Examples of metonymy

One thing (an object or place) is used to represent a larger, more abstract concept.

  • “Crown” is used to represent a king or queen. (A crown and a person are not parts of each other.)
  • The “press” often refers to journalists (who used printing presses in the past), not the press (machine) itself.

(Sources: Glossary of Fiction Writing Terms, scribendi.com and Journal #6 Topic: Metonymy vs. Synecdoche, TeacherWeb.com PDF)

Other sources and references

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Wikipedia: Synecdoche

See also: M is for Moving Along with Motifs — And More (Metonymy, Mood, Music)

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

T is for Telling the Tale

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disorders and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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10 Responses to S is for Synecdoche | #AtoZChallenge

  1. Iain Kelly says:

    Really interesting one today, well done. Enjoy the rest day and look forward to the final week of the challenge 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Theme Reveal: Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2017) | Beyond the Precipice

  3. Pingback: T is for Telling the Tale | Beyond the Precipice

  4. This is interesting. Will keep this in mind.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Spring Is Not Available in Your Area — But It’s Happening Somewhere! | #AtoZChallenge | Beyond the Precipice

  6. JJAzar says:

    Okay, I need a mediator. How would one pronounce synecdoche? Is it a) ‘sin-ek-do-key’, or is it, as one of my English teachers put it, b) ‘sin-eh-doesh’? Personally I do not know, but I was sure taken aback when I heard it said the second way.

    Liked by 1 person

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