A figure or trope by which a part of a thing is put for the whole (as, fifty sail for fifty ships), or the whole for a part (as, the smiling year for spring), the species for the genus (as, cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as, a creature for a man), the name of the material for the thing made, etc.
Synecdoche is from the Greek word [synekdechesthai], taken from the root words [ syn] meaning 'together' or 'joined,' [ ek] meaning 'out of', and [ dechesthai] meaning to receive. Thus the word indicates 'receiving out of that which is together.' By implication, it simply means to 'receive out of the whole.' One is using a Synecdoche when they speak of 'a part of something,' but are referring to the whole thing. For example, if someone says they need 'some wheels to get to New York,' the word wheels is a synecdoche meaning a car. In theological terms, Synecdoche is the metaphorical substitution of a part of something, in place of the whole, or vice versa. For example when Christians refer to the 'eyes' of God, they are allowing a part (the eyes) to represent the whole omniscient or all knowing being of God. Or when the Bible says eight souls were saved by water in Noah's ark, the word 'soul' is a synecdoche representing whole human beings. [ back