I'm interested in figurative language and metonymy in particular. Sometimes it seems hard to tell if a term qualifies as a metonym or would be considered linguistically "literal." One case is when using the name of a country.
The White House opposed the plan...
Washington opposed the plan...
The U.S. opposed the plan...
The White House is commonly cited as a metonym for the U.S. executive branch government. It's the type of metonym "where one thing contains another." Washington is also used this way, using a broader structure to describe U.S. government entities.
If we go even wider in scope, we get to The U.S. Does "The U.S." qualify as a metonym in this context? It seems to function like one, but references to certain aspects of a country by using the country's name seem so common that it sounds odd to think of that as figurative language.
BONUS: If "The U.S." is a metonym in this case, where is the boundary for a country's name being figurative vs. literal? It seems like the only case where the country's name is inarguably literal is when referring to its geography. In other cases I can think of where a country's name is used, it appears to be a placeholder for some part of the country (its government, economy, agency, military, electorate, demographics, etc.). Is that true, or are there other rules or cases?
"A refugee lives in the US," -- literal.
"A refugee went to the US." -- literal.
"The US took in a refugee" -- metonym or literal?
"The US sent back a refugee" -- metonym?