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    The Rhetorical Hoodie

    The hoodie meme—pictures on the Web of cowled people from Jesus to St. Gaudens’ haunting sculpture (shown)—displays the power of the trope. In this case, the hoodie represents a metonymy.

    metonymy (meh-TAHN-ih-mee). From the Greek, meaning “name change.” One of the two belonging tropes, along with synecdoche. The metonymy takes a quality of something or someone and makes it stand for the whole.

    Young Trayvor Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Geraldo Rivera, the sinisterly mustachioed telecorrespondent, opined that the hoodie was as culpable in the boy’s death as the shooter.

    And so was launched a whole bunch of solidaritousds pictures showing non-teenagers—from Jesus to the Miami Heat—with hoodies. The metonymy connects traits across widely disparate examples (including, in this case, a member of Congress who got booted off the floor for violating the House’s hat rules). 

    As for the word hoodie itself, it’s a synecdoche, which takes a part of something—in this case, the hood, and makes it stand for the whole shebang.

    Want more examples of these powerful tropes? Search for them in the box at right.

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