Metonymy

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Metonymy (pronounced /mɨˈtɒnɨmi/, mi-ton-uh-mee [1]) is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. For instance, "Westminster" is used as a metonym (an instance of metonymy) for the Government of the United Kingdom, because it is located there.

The words "metonymy" and "metonym" come from the Greek: μετωνυμία, metōnymía, "a change of name", from μετά, metá, "after, beyond" and -ωνυμία, -ōnymía, a suffix used to name figures of speech, from ὄνῠμα, ónyma or ὄνομα, ónoma, "name."[1] Metonymy may also be instructively contrasted with metaphor. Both figures involve the substitution of one term for another. In metaphor, this substitution is based on some specific similarity, whereas, in metonymy, the substitution is based on some understood association (contiguity).

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Conflated meanings

As an example of metonymy, the central principle of international relations is expressed in the maxim pacta sunt servanda ("pacts must be respected"); and this can be illustrated by the Schengen treaty despite the fact that it was not actually signed at Schengen, Luxembourg, but in the Moselle River at the tripoint of Germany, France and Luxembourg.[2] This metonymy is unaffected, even after the Schengen Agreement lost the status of a treaty which could only be amended according to its terms.[3] Schengen has been encompassed within wider EU treaties.[4]

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