Antonomasia is a linguistic means, which is a special form of Synekdoche and belongs to the tropics. Antonomasy either means (1) the transcription of a self-name, using properties or characteristic adjectives to describe this proper name, or (2) the designation of a genus or group by naming a particular known representative of the genus or group.
The term goes back to the Greek noun antonomasia and can be translated by name or other name. Thus the translation of this word already refers to what the style-figure is about: the other name of a thing [whereby either typical properties of this thing are called or a typical representative of a group stands for the group itself.] Some examples:
(1) The creator of the world is full of grace.
The above example illustrates the basic principle of Antonomasy. The word sequence creator of the world means God who, according to the Old Testament of the Bible, has created the world in seven days. Consequently, the concept of God is described by three words, which clearly refer to him as they are characteristic of him. This form, that is, the transcription by properties, is also called periphrase.
However, the Antonomasy does not only function as an outline, but can also refer to the proper name by naming certain peculiarities. Gero von Wilpert mentions four forms of transcription: by mentioning a) the father’s name (the Pelide = Achilles whose father is Peleus), b) the nationality (the Galilean for Jesus), c) the professional title ) and (d) the recapitulating description (periphrase, above example).
(1) After the exhausting conferences and personal conversations, the 60-year-old CDU-frontwoman faced the numerous questions of the reporters. “We have done a lot, which is why I think that the initial problems have been cleared after these days,” the native Uckermärker added, even if she adds, “that it is necessary to stick to the agreements as much as possible fast results. “So resolutely we do not experience the fickle seldom!
This example is a possible text about Angela Merkel. Two characteristics of the Antonomasia are shown. Thus, it is a popular stylistic tool in journalistic texts to avoid monotonous word repetitions, but likewise the accumulation of such Antonomasia can jeopardize the understanding of the text. If what is meant is designated only by means of circumscriptions, the recipient (reader, listener) is not immediately aware of what is meant by the fact that he needs a certain background knowledge.
(2) You have betrayed me, you Judas!
This example illustrates the second form of Antonomasy. A group or genus is designated by a special, well-known representative of this group or genus. Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples of Jesus, betrays Jesus. Judas is therefore a well-known representative of the traitors. If someone identifies another as Judas, he means that he is a traitor. This is a form of Antonomasy.
This use of the stylistic figure is related to the Synekdoche. The Synekdoche means the fact that a part stands for the whole (roof for house) or the whole for a part (Germany is pope). When a person is called Judas, the disciple stands for all traitors. Thus a part stands for the whole, which explains the kinship to the Synekdoche. Similarly, if a hopeful sonnet poet was described as a new Shakespeare or a strong man as Hercules,
Short overview: The most important thing about the effect and function of the stylist
Antonomasy is a rhetorical stylistic device. It means either the designation of a thing by means of transcription (naming of the father’s name, nationality, occupation, a recapitulating transcription), or the naming of a typical representative of a group or genus to designate the whole group or genus.
However, it is always important to have a background knowledge of the recipient (reader, listener), since anyone who does not know that the creator of the world is the biblical God or that Judas was a traitor can not begin with absolutely the same.
Antonomasia are mostly used to make a text more vivid or even more vivid. Furthermore, they are a typical means to avoid word repetitions and are therefore found in most journalistic texts. It should be borne in mind that the reader always needs a background knowledge to understand the figure, which is why an accumulation in the text can make reading more difficult.
Note: Antonomasia belongs to the tropics group. Tropics are stylistic