synecdoche sə-ˈnek-də-(ˌ)kē noun
: a figure of speech in which part of something is used to refer to or represent the whole thing (or vice versa)
The word synecdoche has appeared in six articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on May 14 in the Opinion column “A de Gaulle of Our Own” by Ross Douthat:
In our political battles everyone is constantly trying to claim ownership of contested symbols — in the flag, the Statue of Liberty, the Bill of Rights — in order to assert that theirs is the true Americanism, theirs the only path of making us great again or taking our country back.
In our media frenzies we keep generating controversies, from Kavanaugh to Covington, that resemble the Dreyfus Affair, 1890s France’s great scandal — in which every cultural division is somehow distilled into a single debate over guilt and innocence, with a representative figure’s virtue or turpitude as a synecdoche for everything dire our factions each believe about the other …