In Frost's poem Loneliness, the last line is 'Our loneliness, so long and vast.' I believe that the word 'loneliness' could be a 'stand-in' word for many others such as 'life', 'expectations' or 'sorrow'. I am somewhat certain that there is a word/phrase that sums this up as I recall hearing about it, but I cannot remember it?

  • 'Template' would probably work, but is rarely used for words. 'Archetype', but again sounding rather unnatural here. May 8, 2017 at 16:01
  • @EdwinAshworth thank you for your feedback. Although, I think it's a literary device? The words you've suggested do seem a little unfitting in the context.
    – Twitvh
    May 8, 2017 at 16:04
  • Perhaps you're asking about expressions of the form (for example) 'Our X, so long and vast'. When there is a set of such, all of which are pretty widely used rather than just available (such as 'the mother of all X's'), they're called 'snowclones'. May 8, 2017 at 16:12
  • @EdwinAshworth yes, this is exactly what I am asking for. Thank you for your help!
    – Twitvh
    May 8, 2017 at 16:18
  • Note that your example is not one of a snowclone (lack of frequency of occurrence). Do look up earlier articles here on snowclones, though. May 8, 2017 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


Under the interpretation that "loneliness" is used as a representative part of something (ex: one's life) and to refer to that something (as "long and vast"), then a literary device that recognizes this is synecdoche, where a part ("loneliness") is used to refer to a whole ("life") or vice versa.

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