Metonymy and text messaging: A framework for understanding creative uses of metonymy

Jeannette Littlemore, Caroline Tagg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
307 Downloads (Pure)


The significance of linguistic creativity in everyday situations is now widely recognised in applied linguistics. There has been substantial discussion of the role played by various tropes in the development of linguistic creativity. However there is one trope which has been relatively underexplored in this literature. Metonymy – the use of one entity, process or event to refer to another related entity, process or event – is an important means of communication as it allows people to formulate and express ideas succinctly as well as serving a range of communicative functions. The use of metonymy as a creative linguistic resource has received very little attention in the literature on everyday creativity. In order to show how metonymy is used creatively in everyday texts, this paper reports findings from an in-depth study of metonymy in an 11,067-word corpus of text-messages. We highlight the role of metonymy as a creative resource, and propose a framework for categorising and explaining creative uses of metonymy. The framework identifies two non-mutually-exclusive forms of creativity involving metonymy: one based on meaning and one based on form.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)481-507
Number of pages27
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2016


  • Metonymy
  • Creativity


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