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It is a figure in which the name of one thing is substituted for that of another with which it is loosely associated. In it the name of one thing is used for another. It is according to Nesfield, 'the substitution of the thing named for the thing meant'.

In this figure the name of an attribute of a thing is substituted for the thing itself. It is, thus, a figure in which one thing is signified by its accompaniment or attribute. An accompaniment or attribute is something that naturally or often goes with an object but not its organic, intrinsic or component part . The 'crown ', for example, is an accompaniment of the king, yet by it we mean the 'king ' himself. It should also be noted that in this figure the relation between the thing named ('crown') and the thing meant ('king') is only external (i.e.., they can be physically separated without any harm to any one) and not of a component type. In the sentence 'He is ruined by the bottle ' we get an example of metonymy, for here the name of one thing ('bottle ') is substituted for that of another ('drink ') associated with the former. The nature of their relation is only external, for both the bottle and drink can be physically separated from each other.

The chief characteristics of a metonymy are given below:

(i) One object is named but another object is meant

(ii) There exists a certain relation between them

(iii) This relation is not intimate but loose.

(iv) It is possible to seperate both objects physically. 


(i) I have real all of Milton

(ii) The village all declar'd how much he knew (Goldsmith)


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