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14 Oct synecdoche

All HandsSynecdoche is a form of speech in which you use a part to refer to its whole or vice-versa. Here are some good examples from World Wide Words: “You use this when you speak of a part of something but mean the whole thing. When Patrick O’Brian has Captain Jack Aubrey tell his first lieutenant to “let the hands go to dinner” he’s employing synecdoche, because he’s using a part (the hand) for the whole man. You can also reverse the whole and the part, so using a word for something when you only mean part of it. This often comes up in sport: a commentator might say that “The West Indies has lost to England” when he means that the West Indian team has lost to the English one. America is often used as synecdoche in this second sense, as the word refers to the whole continent but is frequently applied to a part of it, the USA.”

Synecdoche  is narrower than metonymy, which may use an individual or an attribute to describe an object, group or class. Metonymy and synecdoche both twist context in ways that only the broader context of the surrounding language can help a person (or machine) discern the true intent of the speaker or writer.



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