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There is a special term for when a place name is representative of something other than the actual place itself but I can't remember what it is.

For example: 'Brussels' may be used to refer to the European Union or 'Washington' to refer to the U.S. political establishment.

Does anyone know what this term would be?

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2 Answers 2

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It's a metonym.

metonym noun A word, name, or expression used as a substitute for something else with which it is closely associated. For example, Washington is a metonym for the US government. - ODO

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Also consider the word "synecdoche". It's when one thing is used to represent a whole/larger thing (for example, the crown = the monarchy).

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