In rhetoric, antonomasia is a substitution of any epithet or phrase for a proper name, such as "the little corporal" for Napoleon I. The reverse process is also sometimes called antonomasia. The word derives from the Greek word antonomazein meaning "to name differently". Antonomasia is a particular form of metonymy.

The name used to substitute an abstract notion or personal trait is commonly called archetype or, more specifically, archetypal name.

A frequent instance of antonomasia in the Late Middle Ages and early Renaissance was the use of the term, "the Philosopher," to refer to Aristotle. A more recent example of the other form of antonomasia (usage of archetypes) was the use of "Solons" for "the legislators" in 1930s journalism, after the semi-legendary Solon, lawgiver of Athens.


See "archetypal name" for examples of the opposite kind of antonomasia.

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