Definition of antonomasia in English:
1 Linguistics The substitution of an epithet or title for a proper name (e.g. the Maid of Orleans for Joan of Arc).
- Darryl James, editor of RapSheet, presents Eminem with this antonomasia: ‘the Elvis of Rap’.
- A fine example of antonomasia is the name given a polygamist by his four wives in different towns: 'Seldom Seen Smith'.
- One was antonomasia, the usually derisive practice of describing an individual by a certain characteristic, then making it into a proper noun.
2The use of a proper name to express a general idea (e.g. a Scrooge for a miser).
- Another type of antonomasia we meet when a common noun is still clearly perceived as a proper name.
- The antonomasia can also work the other way, with a proper name as a description - referring to a soldier as a Rambo, for instance, or calling an obsequious black man Uncle Tom.
- He blithely absolves this libel as an example of "antonomasia".
Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek, from antonomazein 'name instead', from anti- 'against, instead' + onoma 'a name'.
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