What is the linguistic term used when a place is associated with a particular building or historical figure(s)?

For example Westminster is associated with the Houses of Parliament and the Prime Minister, such that, when you think of Westminster you instantly think of the Houses of Parliament).


1 Answer 1



Metonymy is 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 in meaning with that thing or concept.

For instance, Wall Street is often used metonymically to describe the U.S. financial and corporate banking sector, while Hollywood is used as a metonym for the U.S. film industry because of the fame and cultural identity of Hollywood, a district of the city of Los Angeles, California, as the historical center of American film studios and U.S. film stars.

See also: List of metonyms on Wikipedia

From English Practice,

The word metonymy means ‘substitution of name’. An object may have several attributes. Metonymy involves the substitution of one of these attributes for the name of the object itself.

Study the example sentences given below:

"The crown has lost much of its power." (crown = the king/monarch)
"The kettle is boiling." (It is not the kettle but the water in it that is boiling.)
"Please address the chair." (chair = the chairman)

  • Thank you so so much, I wish i knew about this site before my english lit and lang exam :) Jul 1, 2016 at 15:25
  • @SophiaMolloy It took me a while to go through all these figures of speech on Wikipedia. You can see the list for more info.
    – NVZ
    Jul 1, 2016 at 15:26
  • 1
    @SophiaMolloy I note that you have already accepted the answer from NVZ. It is quite normal on this site not to accept an answer immediately, but to wait some time to see what alternative answers are offered, so that you can make a choice. Because the authour of the Accepted Answer gets points for it, having accepted an answer prematurely can discourage others from offering alternative answers.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 1, 2016 at 15:45
  • Ahh sure thing, im new and just getting to grips with the site Jul 1, 2016 at 17:51
  • @SophiaMolloy In case you're going to uncheck my answer as helpful, please do visit this page sometime later and accept the one you think is most helpful. ;)
    – NVZ
    Jul 1, 2016 at 17:52

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