Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

METONYMY

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

METONYMY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:08 pm

• metonymy •

Pronunciation: me-tah-nê-mee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A figure of speech involving the substitution of a word or phrase with another closely associated with it, as in "The Crown is against a hitching post in the courtyard," when it is actually a king or queen who is annoyed with the post.

Notes: Today's Good Word is often confused with metaphor, so in the next section we will describe the difference between them. You have a wide choice of adjectives to use with this noun: metonymous, metonymic, or metonymical will all do. A word or phrase used metonymously is a metonym.

In Play: If we say, "Felix adores Dostoyevsky," we mean that he adores something Dostoyevsky is associated with, in this case the writer's novels. "Rome opposes abortion," refers to the Catholic Church, whose seat is in Rome. If the metonym is a part of the actual object referred to, the relationship is synecdoche: the crowned heads of Europe implies the bodies associated with those heads, as well. Metonymy is sometimes confused with metaphor. While metonymy is a type of association (see Meaning), metaphor is a type of comparison. Let's say we hear, "Felix is a dream." In this case Felix is no more associated with dreams than we are. This sentence implies that Felix is like a dream in having all the good qualities we dream of.

Word History: Today's word is an English makeover of Greek metonymia "name change, metonymy", a word derived from meta "among, between, after" + onyma "name". We have discussed onyma recently, so let's focus on meta today. This word goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root medhi "middle" which came down to English as mid, the diminutive of which was middle centuries ago. In Latin we see it as medius "middle", a part of many English borrowed words, such as median, medieval, Mediterranean (= middle of the earth). Russian, did you ask? The Russian version of this root is mezhdu "between, among". (Between you and me, we need to thank Chris Berry for coming up with today's Good Word.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3625
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:00 am

The positions of an atom in a benzene ring are called Ortho, meta, and para. Paraclete, a name for the Holy Spirit, is one who goes beside you. My Dad, who was a practical person, described the professions of farming, building, engineering, teaching and preaching as ortho-professions. He described the professions of law, insurance, politics and banking as meta-professions. I think he made up these distinctions.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1837
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:22 am

Got a problem here. My understanding of "meta" has long been that it meant after as in metaphysics (the treatice in Aristotle afther the one on physics). So I looked it up at Alphadictionary and found AHD said:

meta- or met-

pref.
Later in time: metestrus.
At a later stage of development: metanephros.
Situated behind: metacarpus.
Change; transformation: metachromatism.
Alternation: metagenesis.
Beyond; transcending; more comprehensive: metalinguistics.
At a higher state of development: metazoan.
Having undergone metamorphosis: metasomatic.
Derivative or related chemical substance: metaprotein.
Of or relating to one of three possible isomers of a benzene ring with two attached chemical groups, in which the carbon atoms with attached groups are separated by one unsubstituted carbon atom: meta-dibromobenzene.
ETYMOLOGY:
Greek, from meta, beside, after; see me-2 in Indo-European roots

Lately I've been particular intested in its use as a higher stage of development. When one backs off to look at infrastructure, for example, you can often see why various things are as they are. What am I missing here? At a meta-level aree two different roots or usages involved? If not, how does meta refer both to mid and after?
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:03 pm

metamorph (-ize)
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3550
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Postby Slava » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:49 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Got a problem here. My understanding of "meta" has long been that it meant after as in metaphysics (the treatice in Aristotle afther the one on physics).

The website etymonline has a nice explanation for this:

meta-
prefix meaning 1. "after, behind," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond," from Gk. meta (prep.) "in the midst of, in common with, by means of, in pursuit or quest of," from PIE *me- "in the middle" (cf. Goth. miþ, O.E. mið "with, together with, among;" see mid). Notion of "changing places with" probably led to senses "change of place, order, or nature," which was a principal meaning of the Gk. word when used as a prefix (but also denoting "community, participation; in common with; pursuing"). Third sense, "higher than, transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of," is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics as "science of that which transcends the physical." This has led to a prodigious erroneous extension in modern usage, with meta- affixed to the names of other sciences and disciplines, especially in the academic jargon of literary criticism, which affixes it to just about anything that moves and much that doesn't.

I hope this helps.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4840
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:32 pm

Thanks, slava, does clear things up considerably, but it also seems to say meta can mean whatever you want it to mean: fore, aft, above!
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Postby Slava » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:44 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Thanks, slava, does clear things up considerably, but it also seems to say meta can mean whatever you want it to mean: fore, aft, above!

That's one of the problems with translation. In original context it is often clear, but there is no one word in English to match them all.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4840
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:56 pm

The Teen Titans comic series is dealing with
'meta-human' beings at this point in the series.
"Altered, above," they all seem to fit well with the
comic.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3550
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Postby Slava » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:07 pm

Meta-Analysis is another usage. I'd never really given this term much thought, though it comes up rather often in reports on medical research. As I gather now, it means taking many reports and coming up with a kind of average for whatever you are looking into.

Which brings up the idea that meta- can mean many things. Let's face it, if you're in the middle, aren't you both above and below everything else?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4840
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:35 pm

My dad was a farmer, the salt of the earth. But he was soemthing of a scholar. He viewed meta as "beyond". It was not transcending or more comprehensive. It was beyond reason, beyond usefulness and beyond dignity. It was a put down description for him. Maybe he adjusted the prefix for his own use. The confusion in the discussion seems to mean that many of us have adjusted the prefix for our own use. Having once been a scientist, I never got past the positions on a benzene ring. I am sure of that.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1837
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Postby Slava » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:31 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:Having once been a scientist, I never got past the positions on a benzene ring. I am sure of that.

Yeah, right. "Having once been a scientist" is like saying I was once a teacher. Once one, always one. My father double-dipped, first serving as a bio-chem researcher at Fort Churchill and then becoming a professor of German.

Allow your scientific blood to flow freely and analyze away.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4840
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Postby Slava » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:44 pm

Here's an interesting post in The Atlantic that ends with a usage of the word Meta which I can't quite figure out. Anyone care to try to explain it to me?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4840
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:05 pm

I think, not sure, that Meta here means a shift to the overview of a copy editor rather than reveling in a found mistake.
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:13 am

I took it that the editor, despite all his underlings, is
"above" it all.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3550
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:16 pm

I can't understand the use of Meta in "The Atlantic" either.
Luke and Perry both took good swings at it but I am unsatisfied and stymied. Luke, when you say editor, do you mean copy editor? As a systems engineer for eons, I often had issues with the copy editor and all of tech pubs. But they always won.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1837
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Next

Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests