Mark Antony famously said, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." My teacher says that this is an example of a synecdoche but I don't understand. Isn't a synecdoche a part that represents a whole? someone please explain?

1 Answer
May 31, 2016

The famous quote is an example of metonymy, not synecdoche.


Synecdoche is a Greek term used to refer to a linguistic device where a part is used to represent the whole.

Some examples:
- Using "suits" to refer to businessmen
- Using "wheels" to refer to a car

Metonymy is the use of a phrase or word to replace another phrase or word, especially if that word is connected to the original concept.

Some examples:
- "Let me give you a hand": you will not literally receive a hand, but will instead receive help (something a hand can do).
- "The pen is mightier than the sword"; here, "pen" is used to represent the act of writing, not a physical pen.

In the case of the Mark Antony quote, "ears" is used in place of "attention". Therefore, because the quote uses a word to replace a related concept, it displays the use of metonymy.