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Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Latin synecdochē, from Ancient Greek συνεκδοχή (sunekdokhḗ, receiving together) from σύν (sún, with) + ἐκ (ek, out of) + δέχεσθαι (dékhesthai, to accept), this last element related to δοκέω (dokéō, to think, suppose, seem).


  • IPA(key): /sɪˈnɛk.də.ki/, /sɪˈnɛk.doʊ.ki/
  • (file)


  • fifty head of cattle – part (head) for whole (animal)
  • a fleet of ships, fifty sail deep – part (sail) for whole (ship)
  • the police knocked down my door – whole (the police) for part (some police officers)
  • hand me a Kleenex – subclass (brand named product) for class (all similar products)
  • China maintains closer high-level ties with Pyongyang – country (China) for its government (Chinese government) and capital (Pyongyang) for its country (North Korea)

synecdoche (countable and uncountable, plural synecdoches)

  1. (rhetoric) A figure of speech that uses the name of a part of something to represent the whole, or the whole to represent a part.
    Hypernym: metonymy
    Hyponyms: pars pro toto, totum pro parte
    • 1835, L[arret] Langley, A Manual of the Figures of Rhetoric, [], Doncaster: Printed by C. White, Baxter-Gate, →OCLC, page 9:
      Synecdoche the whole for part will take,
      Or part for whole, just for the metre's sake.
    • 2002 Sep, Christopher Hitchens, “Martin Amis: Lightness at Midnight”, in The Atlantic:
      "Holocaust" can become a tired synecdoche for war crimes in general.
    • 2017 May 17, Dorian Lynskey, “The 20-year-old black mirror that reflects the world today”, in Culture[1]:
      Perhaps being in a touring band was, to Yorke, a synecdoche for the modern condition: disorientation, alienation, rootlessness, exhaustion, lack of control, occasional derangement, constant motion.
  2. (rhetoric) The use of this figure of speech.
    Synonym: synecdochy

Usage notes[edit]

Technically, a synecdoche is a part of the referent while a metonym is connected or associated but not necessarily a part of it.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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Further reading[edit]



From Latin synecdoche, from Ancient Greek συνεκδοχή (sunekdokhḗ, receiving together).



synecdoche f (plural synecdoches, diminutive synecdochetje n)

  1. (literature) synecdoche

See also[edit]