[ mi-ton-uh-mee ]
See synonyms for metonymy on
  1. a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink,” or “count heads (or noses)” for “count people.”

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Origin of metonymy

First recorded in 1540–50; from Latin metōnymia, from Greek metōnymía “change of name”; see origin at met-, -onym, -y3

Words Nearby metonymy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use metonymy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for metonymy


/ (mɪˈtɒnɪmɪ) /

nounplural -mies
  1. the substitution of a word referring to an attribute for the thing that is meant, as for example the use of the crown to refer to a monarch: Compare synecdoche

Origin of metonymy

C16: from Late Latin from Greek: a changing of name, from meta- (indicating change) + onoma name

Derived forms of metonymy

  • metonymical (ˌmɛtəˈnɪmɪkəl) or metonymic, adjective
  • metonymically, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012