pars pro toto
Definition - A figure of speech where the whole is referred to by mentioning one of its parts.
Note: Its opposite is totum pro parte, a figure of speech where the part is referred to by mentioning the whole.

Example -
He's got great wheels (i.e. he's got a great car).

Etymology -
In Latin the phrase means "a part for the whole."

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1702:
"Synecdochical […] Pay, being a certain Figure in our avaritious … Rhetoric, by which there passes, pars pro Toto."
(C. Mather Magn. Chr. vii. i. 5/2)



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