Learn English – Metonythe in Professional European Football (Soccer)


Wikipedia has a great definition of metonymy here, but I have a more specific question. Can I have a list of metnonyms used in Professional European Football (Soccer), particularly the English Premier League (EPL)? I'm relatively new to EPL fandom and want to understand more of the references used in commentary and conversation about the sport.

Best Answer

An extremely common form of metonymy in football is to refer to teams by their colours:

The reds thrashed the blues.

Here's some examples from The Linguistics of Football by Eva Lavric:

  • "fresh legs in midfield"
  • "find the back of the net"
  • "curl/poke/sidefoot the ball"
  • "had the ball in the net"

But I don't think you're after that sort of thing.

The road to Wembley isn't the motorway to London but a team's progress towards winning the FA cup at the finals held at the Wembley national football stadium. Similarly for the road to Europe.

Usually the stadium name is reserved for the place itself but you sometimes hear the name of a stadium being used to refer to the team or organisation, similarly to Downing Street for the government. For example:

  • "The latest briefing from Old Trafford is, however, emphatic ..."
  • That was the word from Elland Road today ..."
  • "The events surrounding the move from St James' Park may be in dispute, but the 22-year-old was keen to look forward to his future at Anfield."

You may even hear the same for sections of a stadium, such as the Kop at Liverpool's Anfield stadium. (Stadium names are used a lot ("City will be visiting Old Trafford") so it can help to know them.)


For many years, the headquarters of The Football Association were located in Lancaster Gate and the term was often used as a metonym for the organisation, but it later relocated to Soho Square and is now based at Wembley Stadium.

As in:

  • "Collymore's mail this week is likely to include an invitation from Lancaster Gate to explain his actions."
  • "The sighs of relief from Lancaster Gate and Anfield were almost audible yesterday as Owen declared himself to be poorly."
  • "How difficult it has become to believe anything - on the record or not - emanating from Soho Square."

Finally, sport is traditionally (but not always) reported in the back pages of a newspaper, so you may hear referring to any newspaper sports reporting:

Hardly a week goes by without some paper shouting boldly from the back pages that Chelsea will return with an increased offer for Modric’s services.