Metonymy. Semantic Change

If the transfer is based upon the association of contiguity it is called metonymy. It is a shift of names between things that are known to be in some way or other connected in reality. The transfer may be condi­tioned by spatial, temporal, causal, symbolic, instrumental, functional and other relations.
Thus, the word book is derived from the name of a tree on which inscriptions were scratched: ModE book < OE boc 'beech'. ModE win <. OE winnan 'to fight'; the word has been shifted so as to apply to the success following fighting. Cash is an adaptation of the French word caisse 'box'; from naming the container it came to mean what was con­tained, i.e. money; the original meaning was lost in competition with the new word safe. Spatial relations are also present when the name of the place is used for the people occupying it. The chair may mean 'the chair­man', the bar 'the lawyers', the pulpit 'the priests'. The word town may denote the inhabitants of a town and the word house the members of the House of Commons or of Lords. Cello, violin, saxophone are often used to denote not the instruments but the musicians who play them.
A causal relationship is obvious in the following development: ModE fear < ME feere < OE fær, fēr 'danger', 'unexpected attack'. States and properties serve as names for objects and people possessing them: youth, age, authorities, forces. The name of the action can serve to name the result of the action: ModE kill < ME killen 'to hit on the head', ModE stay || Germ schlagen.. Emotions may be named by the movements that accompany them: to frown, to start.
There are also the well-known instances of symbol for thing symbol­ized: the crown for 'monarchy'; the instrument for the product: 'hand 'handwriting'; receptacle for content, as in the word kettle, and some others. Words for the material from which an article is made are often used to denote the particular article: glass, iron, copper, nickel are well known examples. The pars pro toto where the name of a part is applied to the whole may be illustrated by such military terms as the royal horse for 'cavalry' and foot for 'infantry', and the expressions like / want to have a word with you. The reverse process is observed when OE cēol 'a ship' develops among other variants into keel 'a barge load of coal'.
A place of its own within metonymical change is occupied by the so-called functional change. The type has its peculiarities: in this case the shift is between names of things substituting one another in human practice. Thus, the early instrument for writing was a feather or more exactly a quill (OE pen, from OFr penne, from It penna, from Lat. penna 'feather'). We write with fountain-pens that are made of differ­ent materials and have nothing in common with feathers except the function, but the name remains. The name rudder comes from OE roper 'oar' || Germ Ruder 'oar'. The shift of meaning is due to the shift of function: the steering was formerly achieved by an oar. The steersman was called pilot; with the coming of aviation one who operates the flying controls of an aircraft was also called pilot. For more cases of functional change see also the semantic history of the words: filter, pocket, spoon, stamp, sail.
Common names may be derived from proper names also metonymically, as in macadam and diesel, so named after their inventors.
Many physical and technical units are named after great scientists: volt, ohm, ampere, watt, etc.
There are also many instances in political vocabulary when the place of some establishment is used not only for the establishment itself or its staff but also for its policy: the White House, the Pentagon, Wall Street, Downing Street, Fleet Street.
Examples of geographic names turning into common nouns to name the goods exported or originating there are exceedingly numerous, e.g.
astrakhan, bikini, boston, cardigan, china, tweed.
Garments came to be known by the names of those who brought them into fashion: mackintosh, raglan, wellingtons.

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