What is synecdoche?

Alina Olkhovich
Alina Olkhovich
January 31, 2013
What is synecdoche?

As a literary device for creating a verbal image, the synecdoche has been known since antiquity. Even then, 8 species of it were distinguished. So what is synecdoche?

A synecdoche (translated from Greek synekdoche is a ratio) is a kind of metonymy (paths in which the meaning of words is transferred to others by adjacency), which is based on a quantitative comparison of objects and phenomena.

The most common types of synecdochee are:

  • instead of the whole, its part is used, which is that whole;
  • the use of the singular in the plural;
  • the use of a general definition instead of the particular;
  • the use of a generic concept instead of a specific one.

One can more clearly see what synecdoche is in the literature and examples from everyday life:

  • The name of the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" is a synecdoche. Here the meaning of the word “girl” was transferred to a headdress - a red cap. By the same principle, the military began to be called the "Blue Berets."
  • "Herd in a hundred heads" - heads instead of the names of animals.
  • “Hey, beard!” (A phrase from “Dead Souls” N.Gogol) - the use of human sign to refer to the person himself.
  • “Some penny will work” - a penny in the general meaning of money.
  • “There has not been a human foot for many years” - the use of the word “foot” in the meaning of a person himself or many people.
  • "Home" - in the sense of the whole house.
  • A line from the famous verse of Lermontov “A lonely sail is white” - a sail means the whole boat.