Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Synecdoche: A Part of Life That Makes Us Whole"*

Synecdoche. What a great word! Almost as good as proclivity.

I have just been reminded of the clever William Safire and his On Language column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

His wit and pen turn this week to the confusion between Synecdoche and Metonymy. Now I know the word synecdoche but didn't realize it had a cousin, metonymy.

So a little elucidation.

Metonymy- identifies a person or a thing by something closely associated with it. For example "the brass" in the military, "the crown" for royalty and "the suits" for business executives.

Synecdoche uses the part to refer to the whole like "wheels" for a car and "head" for cattle and "troops" for individuals in the military branches.

So, at your next cocktail party toss those tidbits into the conversation.

*Headline by Philip Kenicott of The Washington Post

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