Synecdoche vs Metonymy: Difference and Comparison

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.

The concepts sometimes cause confusion as they are sometimes overlapping, although it can be very simple too. This depends on the understanding.

Key Takeaways

  1. Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something refers to the whole, while metonymy is a figure of speech in which one thing is used to represent another thing with which it is closely associated.
  2. Synecdoche is used in literature and poetry to create a vivid image or convey a specific meaning, while metonymy is used in everyday language to simplify communication.
  3. Synecdoche is a form of metaphor, while metonymy is a form of figurative language that involves substitution.

Synecdoche vs Metonymy

The term ‘synecdoche’ is used to refer to a part of something to the whole thing. There are multiple layers of synecdoche. It focuses on a particular part of a thing. The term ‘metonymy’ can be used to represent something. There are different types of metonymy.  It mainly focuses on the related part of the concept. 

Synecdoche vs Metonymy

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.

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’.

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Comparison Table

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.

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.

What is Metonymy?

Metonymy is also a figure of speech that is used to refer to something that is connected to it.

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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’.

In the united states, Washington DC or just Washington is used to refer to the whole government, while the white house is for referring the president and other members.

Main Differences Between Synecdoche and Metonymy

  1. Synecdoche can have multiple layers at the same time, but metonymy does not have many layers. It just has different types.
  2. 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 the 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.
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

Last Updated : 25 June, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Synecdoche vs Metonymy: Difference and Comparison”

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