In this sense, the primary subject is spoken of and thought about in terms of the secondary subject. It is easy to feel that in Romeo’s metaphor, familiar fragments of sun-talk come to be about Juliet without ceasing to be about the sun. If so, the double aboutness exhibited by metaphorical language is something philosophers must strive to understand.

The SEP on metaphor (apologies if the wrong stackexchange).

Can the same be said about metonymy? If we call bureaucracy "red tape" are we still talking about tape?


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'Metonymy' derives from the Greek for 'a change of name' or 'through the name'). It is easily illustrated. 'The Kremlin' can be used to refer to the Russian government because the two things are so closely related in political talk. 'The White House gave an angry reaction' - i.e., the US government, so closely assocoiated with the White House, did so. Equally, 'the Crown' may refer to the monarch, because monarchs have crowns and (virtually) no-one else does. Or one might say, 'There goes old walking stick', as a well-known old person, equipped with a familiar walking stick, goes by.

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