in rhetoric, a trope or figure of speech in which the name of one thing is substituted for that of another that is suggested by or closely associated with it (such as the bottle for "alcoholic drink," the Kremlin for "the Russian government"); 1560s, from French métonymie (16c.) and directly from Late Latin metonymia, from Greek metōnymia, literally "change of name," related to metonomazein "to call by a new name; to take a new name," from meta "change" (see meta-) + onyma, dialectal form of onoma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name"). It often serves to call up associations not suggested by the literal name. Related: Metonymic; metonymical; metonymically.
updated on December 20, 2020