On the creative use of metonymy

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Antonio Barcelona’s work has advanced our understanding of the role played by pragmatics in the production and comprehension of metonymy. Much of his work has focused on playful uses of metonymy, which involve creative extensions of attested metonymic relationships, particularly in the pursuit of adversarial humour. Whilst there has been extensive work on the creative use of metaphor, very few studies have explored the range of ways in which metonymy is used creatively. In this chapter, I analyse creative uses of metonymy from a range of sources including film reviews, text messaging, art, advertising, cinema and literature in order to identify the different forms that creative uses of metonymy can take. In the process of analysing these different creative uses of metonymy, I address the following questions: What is the difference between ‘novelty’ and ‘creativity’ what is the relationship between them, in the context of metaphor and metonymy? To what extent and in what ways are the principles underpinning the identification of creative metonymy, analogous to those used in the identification of creative metaphor? At what level of abstraction should the creativity be identified in each case? Can and should we distinguish between ‘novel’ metonymy’ per se, and creative uses of metonymy? At what point can we say that a new metonymic mapping has been created as opposed to a creative use of an existing mapping? What affordances does metonymy offer for creative use and how do these relate to the affordances that are offered by metaphor?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104–129
Number of pages26
JournalReview of Cognitive Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2022


  • Creativity
  • Metonymy
  • novelty


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