Metaphor and metonymy: Making their connections more slippery

John Barnden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Citations (Scopus)


This paper continues the debate about how to distinguish metaphor from metonymy. and whether this can be done It examines some of the differences that have been alleged to exist, and augments the already existing doubt about them The main differences addressed ale the similarity/contiguity distinction and the issue of whether source-target links are part Of the message in metonymy or metaphor In particular, the paper argues that metaphorical links can always be used metonymically and regarded as contiguities, and conversely that two particular, central types of metonymic contiguity essentially involve similarity The paper also touches briefly on how metaphor and metonymy interact with domains, frames, etc and on the role of imaginary identification/categorization of target as/under source items Mirth the possible exception of this last issue, the paper suggests that no combination of the alleged differences addressed can serve cleanly to categorize source/target associations into metaphorical ones and metonymic ones It also suggests that it can be more profitable to analyse utterances at the level of the dimensions involved in the differences than at the higher level of metaphor and metonymy as such.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010


  • representational metonymy
  • image metaphors
  • resemblance metaphors
  • similarity, part/whole metonymy
  • metaphor, metonymy, metaphor/metonymy distinction, contiguity


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