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A figure of speech in which one word, phrase or object is substituted for another from a semantically related field of reference. Metonymy differs from metaphor, in that metaphors operate through transference of similar characteristics while metonymy operates through more direct forms of association: in other words, something associated with X is substituted for X. Reisigl and Wodak (2001: 56–8) detail a number of metonymic replacements:

  • the cause or creator is replaced by the product, e.g. ‘the Antiterrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 criminalizes Muslims’;
  • the user of an object replaced by the object, e.g. ‘the trains are on strike’;
  • people replaced by a place in which these people work/are staying, e.g. ‘The White House declared’; ‘the detention centre erupted into violence’;
  • events replaced by the date on which ...

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