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Pedants' corner

Physical things that are abstract things too

3 replies

tallulahbelly · 19/01/2010 11:31

What's the word for when a physical thing is also a concept?

Such as 'Whitehall' for the street where government ministries are or 'the civil service'.

Or 'Pentagon' for the CIA HQ or the CIA itself?

Please help because when I mentioned this to DH he looked at me as though I had too much time on my hands. He does this a lot.

ps I only found this forum this morning so don't have a go at me for my title.

OP posts:
Umami · 20/01/2010 09:28

I have no idea, but here's a bump for the pedants!

shootfromthehip · 20/01/2010 09:41

Synecdoche: a term denoting a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (Pars pro toto), or
a term denoting a thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it (Totum pro parte), or
a term denoting a specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, or
a term denoting a general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class (Bindo pro parte), or
a term denoting a material is used to refer to an object composed of that material.


Where a part refers to the whole:
"White hair" for an elderly person
"Fingers" or "Legs" as a nickname
"A pair of hands" referring to a worker
"Old Blue Eyes" to refer to Frank Sinatra
"The White House" referring to the executive branch of the United States government
Where a whole thing is used to refer to a part of it:
"The city" passing a law, meaning that the local government has passed a law
A "country being at war", when only its representative army is fighting, and the landmass itself is obviously not at war
A general class name used to denote a specific member of that or an associated class
"Truck" for any four-wheel drive vehicle (as well as long-haul trailers etc.)
Although there are many types of solitaire, "Solitaire" usually refers to Klondike, as it is the most common type.

Could be wrong but think thatthis may be what you're looking for.


tallulahbelly · 20/01/2010 10:07

Great. Thanks. Think that's it because I dimly remember now that it was in something I was reading that mentioned the film Synecdoche NY, which I haven't seen.

One more favour - how do you pronounce it?

OP posts:
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