Pronunciation: listen


Synecdoche is the use of a deliberate confusion of scale, in which a poet refers to one thing in terms of a part of it - or in terms of what it is a part of. So a person could be "a sympathetic ear", or the person who was actually speaking when the news reports that "the government said today...". The person is neither just an ear nor the whole government, but using synecdoche to suggest that s/he is heightens that role.

How to use this term

The mysterious arsonist in 'Incident on a Holiday', by Alan Brownjohn, is just "unpoliced fingers", a synecdoche that maintains the mystery with this extreme close-up.

Related Terms


Related Poems

The Children's Archive

This part of the Archive is full of poems chosen specially for children. Meet old favourites and make new discoveries.

Support The Poetry Archive
The Poetry Archive depends on donations from public bodies and private individuals. Find out how you can contribute to the work of the Archive.
Search for a poem or a poet:

My Archive

Create lists of your favourite poems and poets and share them with friends.

Browse all poets by name

View all poets

Browse all poems by title

View all poems

Glossary of poetic terms

View full glossary