When I am referring to a number of job applicants, I might say, "I've got a hundred qualified applicants in this folder"; when what I mean is, "I've got RESUMES from a hundred qualified applicants in this folder".

Although most English speakers would understand what I meant, it is not proper English. Is there a name for this grammatical shortcut/faux pas?

Although the Web has powerful search capabilities; unless you KNOW the name of something, it is hard to search for it. I am very grateful for all the StackExchange sites.

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    Well, it might be the figure-of-speech known as synecdoche. But I would not call it a faux pas, nor would I say it is not proper English. – GEdgar Aug 20 '13 at 14:19
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    @GEdgar Synecdoche is more often used to refer to the figure of speech in which a part is used to refer to the whole - forty roofs were lost to the wildfires. A resume is a term associated with applicant but neither the part or the whole. – bib Aug 20 '13 at 22:42
  • Saying "applicants" could be better than saying "resumés" if the folder might contain multiple resumés for some applicants, and/or describe applicants for whom resumés were not enclosed. I consider the usage similar to saying a company's added thousands of new products to its latest catalog. – supercat Oct 31 '14 at 15:23

"A hundred qualified applicants in this folder" is perfectly grammatical, and a reasonable turn of phrase; it is an example of metonymy:-

a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated with that thing or concept

  • Thank you, I thought it was correct but wanted to make sure. Now I know the term metonym, as well as synedoche. – CigarDoug Aug 20 '13 at 15:12

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