Annals of metonymy

From my files, this nice metonymic find (from Ashley Parker, “The Real World 44”, NYT Magazine 5/2/10):

Losing Edward M. Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat to Scott Brown – and with it, the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority – was a blow. “There was a big sense of loss when Massachusetts happened, “ [special assistant to Barack Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod, Eric] Lesser says.

Lots of similar examples, including many for “when the World Trade Center happened”, for instance:

Do you remember where you were when the World Trade Center happened? (link)

Such examples refer to an event via a reference to the place where the event happened.



3 Responses to “Annals of metonymy”

  1. John Lawler Says:

    Remember Pearl Harbor!
    Remember The Maine!

  2. Paul Palmer Says:

    I cannot find out why the town in Massachusetts, now called Arlington was first known by the name Metonymy. Does anyone know?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      On the chance that this is a genuine comment and not just spam, I’ll bite: The original name was not Metonymy, but Menotomy. From the Wikipedia entry:

      The Town of Arlington was originally settled by European colonists in 1635 as a village within the boundaries of Cambridge, Massachusetts under the name Menotomy, an Algonquian word meaning “swift running water”. A larger area, including land that was later to become the town of Belmont, and outwards to the shore of the Mystic River, which had previously been part of Charlestown, was incorporated on February 27, 1807 as West Cambridge. In 1867, the name “Arlington” was chosen in honor of those buried in Arlington National Cemetery; the name change took effect that April 30.

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