Metonymy: Hidden Shortcuts in language, thought and communication

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Colleges, School and Institutes


'Metonymy' is a type of figurative language used in everyday conversation, a form of shorthand that allows us to use our shared knowledge to communicate with fewer words than we would otherwise need. ‘I’ll pencil you in’ and ‘let me give you a hand’ are all examples of metonymic language and serve a wide range of communicative functions such as textual cohesion, humour, irony, euphemism and hyperbole – all of which play a key role in the development of language and discourse communities. Using authentic data throughout, the book shows how metonymy operates, not just in language, but also in gesture, sign language, art, music, film and advertising. It explores the role of metonymy in cross-cultural communication, along with the challenges it presents to language learners and translators. Ideal for researchers and students in linguistics and literature, as well as teachers and general readers interested in the art of communication.


Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9781107043626
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015