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16 September 2008 @ 11:28 am
Trying to understand a new word  
My Word Master Friends,

SYNECDOCHE

Is Kleenex a synecdoche of facial tissues?

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the definition and its use. I discovered it in Longitude by Dava Sobel, and in a context that was unrevealing to me.

If the above is not a proper use of it, can you give me a sentence that is?

Thank you!
 
 
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marc17marc17 on September 16th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
"eponyms" or "brand eponym" seems to be the answer.

Synecdoche does not seem to be the answer as defined as the items are not being described as a part of the item.
Satan's Tilt-A-Whirlsavannarama on September 16th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
I agree. Kleenex is not part of facial tissue, nor is facial tissue part of Kleenex. Eponym does seem right.

I hadn't heard a word describing the synecdoche concept before; pretty cool.
Satan's Tilt-A-Whirlsavannarama on September 16th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
Although "the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin)" is arguable. Kleenex could be seen as a species of facial tissue. However, Kleenex is constantly used as a perfect example of the eponym, like "Band-aid" (which is not all bandages, but has become a word for all bandages).

Most of the definition of synecdoche seems focused on parts vs. whole, though.
sculptruth on September 16th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
Yes!

Just like people say "Coke" for any soft drink (not common I suppose, but I've known a few). Or "Hobart" for any upright mixer (common in restaurants). "Wheels" for car. "Threads" for clothes.

Somewhere in here there's a clever joke about politicians, but I haven't had enough coffee to get there from here.

I need more Starbucks in my Synecdoche.
(Deleted comment)
sculptruth on September 16th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
Metonym, sure; I'm dubious about eponym. It's generalising to use proprietary terms like "coke" or "hobart" or "aspirin" but I think that it's nonetheless a valid example of the word in question.
Kburgunder on September 16th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
I think, based on Savannah's later comment, that eponyms (metronyms? Oh dear gods, I didn't sign up for 3 new words! Just 1! -laugh- ) might be a subset of synecdoches. Cutthroat can refer to assassin, by the Merriam-Webster definition, which I think is the same idea as the Kleenex for facial tissue example...

When even a grammatical definition is open to debate, I think it's fair to say the parent language is INSANE! :) Silly silly crazy silly English.
sculptruth on September 16th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
True true; I much prefer Spanish or French, both of which just make a hell of a lot more sense than English to me. This complicated mess is too semantic for my taste.

(no subject) - burgunder on September 16th, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Douglaschiaspod on September 16th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC)
Um, they're:
a) not really open to debate. Misunderstanding, yes. But say "eponym" or "metonym" to an English professor and they're going to know exactly what it means. :)
b) A cutthroat is a specific subset of the overall class of assassins - there are snipers, stranglers, poisoners, etc. A Kleenex is neither a subcomponent nor superset of facial tissue - it encompasses the whole, and shares a 1:1 definition with facial tissue. It is completely synonymous, and can be used interchangeably.

b-sub-1) You wouldn't say "a cutthroat shot Lincoln in the head." :)

English is extremely complex, yet predictable - the reason it seems insane is that most people have better things to do than learn the majority of underlying structures. It's no more complicated than French's spelling, for instance.
(no subject) - burgunder on September 16th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - burgunder on September 16th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - khallis on September 17th, 2008 10:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chiaspod on September 17th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - burgunder on September 17th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chiaspod on September 17th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
interit: foamy pills to cure the deatha_muse_d on September 16th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
"Bayer" is the brand, "aspirin" is the drug...
sculptruth on September 16th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Jesus, this conversation is full of fun. My point was people say "aspirin" in lieu of any painkiller.

Nonetheless, I'm not the one who is illustrating the term in any way that I claim to be accurate -- see the comments of others for more eloquent elaboration.
Douglaschiaspod on September 16th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
Gwywnnydd and Savannarama are mostly correctly - though technically Coke, Kleenex, Xerox, etc. are proprietary eponyms, separating them from true eponyms.

Should I bring up "metonymy" just to mess with you more?
Kburgunder on September 16th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
heh, yes, because it's come up to my increasing confusion, so I may as well seek clarity while we're on the subject ;>
(no subject) - chiaspod on September 16th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tenshiemi on September 16th, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sculptruth on September 16th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - burgunder on September 16th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - burgunder on September 16th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on September 16th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - burgunder on September 16th, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chiaspod on September 16th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
interit: Ixia_muse_d on September 16th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
gesundheit.
bellabellanorth on September 17th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
Being a brand name, I don't think Kleenex is a good example. But those folks who ask for aspirin when they want any OTC pain reliever (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen)? That's an example of synecdoche.