- Pars pro toto
"Pars pro toto" is
Latinfor "(taking) a part for the whole" where a portion of an object or concept represents the entire object or context. See also synecdoche.
When used in a context of language it means that something is named after a part of it, or after a limited characteristic, in itself not necessarily representative for the whole. For example, "glasses" is a "pars pro toto" name for something that consists of more than just two pieces of glass.
"Pars pro toto" is a common device in
iconography, where a particular icon can stand for a complete set of characteristics.
The opposite of a pars pro toto is a
totum pro parte, in which the whole is used to describe a part.
place namesare sometimes used to denote an area greater than that warranted by their strict meaning. Examples of this include:
England” for Great Britain, the British Islesand/or the United Kingdom– see British Isles (terminology)
Holland” for the Netherlands– see Netherlands (terminology)
Persia” for Iran– see Iran naming dispute
Russia” for the former Soviet Union
*The use of capitals to denote capital regions or even entire countries, e.g. “
Canberra” for the Australian Capital Territory
Such usage can cause offense. The people of
Scotlandand Wales, for example, would not want to be referred to as part of “England” or as “English”. Inhabitants of the Netherlands who live in provinces other than North or South Hollandmay feel excluded when “Holland” is used to describe their country.
Totum pro parte
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