Difference Between Synecdoche and Metonymy (With Table)

Both synecdoche and metonymy are figures of speech in the English language. Both of them originated from the Greek language as earlier they were parts of ancient Greek rhetoric. Since then, their names were passed to the English language from Latin.

The concepts sometimes cause confusion as they are sometimes overlapping, although it can be very simple too. This depends on the understanding. The worst about this concept and its differences is that there is a lot of conflicting information about it. This further cause trouble to the readers and the writers.

Synecdoche vs Metonymy

The difference between synecdoche and metonymy is that synecdoche is a figure of speech used when describing a part of something or of a sentence used to refer to the whole portion of it. For instance, in the sentence above only, it is used to refer to the whole sentence, while metonymy is something that is used or someone is used to represent or refer to something related to it.

Synecdoche is a part of metonymy only and is used to refer specifically when a part of something is used to refer to a whole of it or vice versa. Let’s understand it with an example, in the phrase- we have many hungry mouths to feed the food, mouths are basically used to represent all the hungry people, and it will be called synecdoche as mouths are part of hungry people.

Metonymy is also a figure of speech used to refer to something connected to it. It will be better to understand it with an example- it is common to call the people related to the news, the people who broadcast it, and the people who collect it called ‘the press’. It is the short version of the ‘printing press’ used for newspaper printing.

Comparison Table Between Synecdoche and Metonymy

Parameters of comparisonSynecdocheMetonymy
MeaningSynecdoche is a part of metonymy only and is used to refer specifically when a part of something is used to refer to a whole of it or vice versa.Metonymy is also a figure of speech used to refer to something connected to it.
What is itIt is a type of figure of speech like metaphor, personification, etc.It is also a figure of speech. 
TypeIt is part of metonymy. Although some people might not refer it to as part of metonymy, it actually is.Metonymy is just a figure of speech.
LayersSynecdoche can have multiple layers at the same time.Metonymy does not have many layers. It just has different types.
ExampleIn Canada, coins are also called loonies as they have a picture of a loon on them. Here, the loon is the synecdoche as it is used to represent all the coins.In the united states, Washington DC or just Washington is used to referring to the whole government while the white house is for referring the president and other members.

What is Synecdoche?

Synecdoche is a part of metonymy only and is used to refer specifically when a part of something is used to refer to a whole of it or vice versa. Let’s understand it with an example, in the phrase- we have many hungry mouths to feed the food, mouths are basically used to represent all the hungry people, and it will be called a synecdoche as mouths are part of people that are hungry.

In Canada, coins are also called loonies as they have a picture of a loon on them here. Loon is the synecdoche as it is used to represent all the coins. Another type of synecdoche can be materials that an object refers to. For instance, let’s say specs are used to refer to weak eyesight. They can also be called glasses as they include lenses that are made from glass.

What is Metonymy?

Metonymy is also a figure of speech that is used to refer to something that is connected to it. It will be better to understand it with an example- it is common to call the people related to the news, the people who broadcast it, and the people who collect it called ‘the press’. It is the short version of the ‘printing press, which is used to be used for newspaper printing.

In the united states, Washington DC or just Washington is used to referring to the whole government while the white house is for referring the president and other members. Similarly, in the united kingdom, Buckingham is used to referring to the royal family of the united kingdom while the phrase 10 downing street means the staff of the prime minister, and Westminster is for the British parliament.

Main Differences Between Synecdoche and Metonymy

  1. The main difference between synecdoche and metonymy is that synecdoche is a part of metonymy only and is used to refer specifically when a part of something is used to refer to a whole of it or vice versa, while metonymy is also a figure of speech that is used to refer to something that is connected to it.
  2. Synecdoche is a type of figure of speech like metaphor, personification, etc., and metonymy is also a figure of speech. 
  3. Synecdoche is part of metonymy. Although some people might not refer it to as part of metonymy, it actually is, while metonymy is just a figure of speech.
  4. Synecdoche can have multiple layers at the same time, but metonymy does not have many layers. It just has different types.
  5. Example for synecdoche- In Canada, coins are also called loonies as they have a picture of a loon on them here loon is the synecdoche as it is used to represent all the coins while for metonymy it is like in united states, Washington DC or just Washington is used to refer the whole government while the white house is for referring the president and other members.

Conclusion

The conclusion for this is that both synecdoche and metonymy being figures of speech have different meanings and uses. This might be a little confusing at first to understand the difference between the two, but they have their own different paths.

Both of them originated from the Greek language as earlier they were parts of ancient Greek rhetoric. Since then, their names were passed to the English language from Latin.

References

  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/hllr14&section=15
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1772425
  3. https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199738632.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199738632-e-10
x
2D vs 3D