What is synecdoche?

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Synecdoche is a subspecies of a metaphor. It is tricky to understand, but once you've grasped it, it becomes easier to spot. Basically, it's a figure of speech where a single term, or part of something, is used to represent/describe a whole thing or being. That sounds confusing, so some examples might help:

-"He asked for her hand." (Meaning, he asked a woman to marry him.)

-Describing a complete vehicle as "wheels".

-"Threads" for clothing

-"Counting heads", when you're counting people.

-"Need a hand", what you really need is a whole person, but synecdoche here means you just ask for a single hand. 

It's quite a weird concept, and may take a while to fully comprehend, but once it starts popping up in literature (Emily Dickinson is known for her use of synecdoche), it's a great thing to be able to write about. 

Ella G. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level English Literature tut...

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