The "Cheat"
Synecdochal Examples
Single Boundary
More Instances
My Reflections
Other Synecdoches

This is my page for loose ends and things I want to wonder about. It's under construction.

Mood and Nuance

Like most (or all) figuratives, synecdoche can be used for mood. For example, Chandler's charity example is cynical. My pretzel example establishes how hungry she is -- she would have been excited to find even a broken piece of pretzel.; my kite string example established her desperation to join in the activity. We might even suspect hyperbole in that.

But there is a descriptive advantage – the synecdoche also communicates something that "food" does not – she would have been excited to find even a broken piece of pretzel. (That's a better "show" for how hungry she is.)

Hyperbole and Lexaphor

Synechdoche can be combined with hyperbole.

They punished me.
They tortured me. (hyperbole)
They crucified me. (hyperbole and synecdoche)

However, hyperbole means the sentence isn't true. So there is no need for specifity. Also, it's not clear how to generate a category from an instance that isn't in the category.

So, hyperbole plus synecdoche is going to start looking like lexaphor. In the above, crucifiction will be a metaphor for what they did, in lexaphor format.

So, the following could be viewed as synecdoche with hyperbole, choosing an extreme but could equally be seen as lexaphor with hyperbole.

They sent me to Timbuktu

Becoming Words

The process of becoming words is fascinating. When a word or phrase is used metaphorically or synecdotally, that usage can be common. It might be a cliche, then it could become a common word or idiom. The actual origin might be lost.

Give us this day our daily bread.

As far as I know, 'daily bread' is synecdochal.

Control of Meaning

Damn him. I'm going to kill him.
No, [he] has a gun and knows how to use it. I know how to apply mascara and get a five-year-old to go to bed. I would be afraid to kill someone.

I have used synecdoche -- two instances -- to create a category. The context surely adds to that. But do I know exactly what category the reader will construct?

No. Synecdoche is not the best way to construct a category.

But . . . do I know exactly category I want? Yes, but not exactly. If I could describe it, would the reader understand that description? yes, but probably not exactly. (Anyway, I don't want an abstract definition, that's why I used synecdote.)

And, since this is a first person present narration, it gets even fuzzier. Did the main character intend to use synecdote? Unlikely, right? So it is just her using a natural thinking style. But those instances came from somewhere, so tthere must have been some category in her mind. Even if she (and I and the reader) cannot say what it is.

So, the reader will be close enough, and that's good enough for me.

But it leaves me with selecting the instances I wanted. I'm not ecstatic about those. Changing a diaper would have been the obvious instance, but I wanted something that people might not have thought about, the point being that there's a lot of skills women tend to have more then men.


There's a different way of seeing the Denver example.

...a crash that must have been heard in Denver.

I framed that as "Where could the crash be heard"? I could have framed it as, "How far away could the crash be heard?"

This is still a one-sided category. The most important part is still the farthest boundary. Almost everything's the same except it doesn't fit the well-defined topic for these webpages. Could it be another type of synecdoche? I don't know.

We still have the use of vividness over abstractness. And all of the issues, such as hyperspecificity and mentioning the category:

Must have been heard in every bar in Denver.
...must have been heard as far away as Denver.

So it doesn't matter. And it doesn't matter that this was a puzzling issue for metaphors:

He's as fast as a speeding bullet
He's faster than a speeding bullet.

#1 is easily called simile, assuming you can turn off your brain. It doesn't say he's like a speeding bullet, it's about his speed. It doesn't say his speed is similar to a speeding bullent, it says it's exactly the same. Which you can try to call a metaphor, but there's no figurative device here.

#2 doesn't have the key words needed for a simile, so it's not clear how to category it. I should note that metaphors are universally untrue, except for this type. Of course, #2 has to be the same category as #1. And, if a bullet travels at 200 MPH, what about

He's as fast as 200 MHP.

That's no different, though we've somehow lose all metatphor.

So, you can understand my reflection. This is an innocent situation, and it doesn't need to be solved. I was comfortable noting it and moving on; I was comfortable not bringing it up. But it's more than a little unexpected to find it here at the end of a discussion on synecdoche.