A figure of speech in which the name of a part is used to stand for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).
[Middle English synodoches, from Medieval Latin synodoche, alteration of Latin synecdochē, from Greek sunekdokhē, from sunekdekhesthai, to take on a share of : sun-, syn- + ekdekhesthai, to understand (ek-, out of; see eghs in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + dekhesthai, to take; see dek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
syn′ec·dochic (sĭn′ĕk-dŏkĭk), syn′ec·dochi·cal (-ĭ-kəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.