Metonymy literally is to allude to, imply or refer to. Rhetorically: it is to signify an allegorical meaning by alluding to it without specifically identifying that meaning, while the original/literal meaning being correct as well and sound if taken literally. For example: Zaid has a lot of ashes زيد كثير الرماد where this expression refers to Zaid’s generosity as he hosts lots of guests and cooks for them which leaves ashes from the woods used.
Metonymy الكناية has three categories:
- Metonymy of an attribute كناية عن صفة: which alludes to a characteristic which would be generosity in our example.
- Metonymy of a modified/described كناية عن موصوف: where the modifier and affinity are mentioned unlike the modified for example: I killed the king of the animals قتلت ملك الحيوانات i.e. the lion.
- Metonymy of an affinity كناية عن شبه: where the modifier and the modified are mentioned but the affinity term while being an essential element is absent for example: Success is his ally النجاح حليفه meaning success is always with him, i.e. he is always successful.