Blood and treasure

I think we need to declare a moratorium on “blood and treasure.” It has a good cadence, and unlike many rhetorical flights, it sounds manly and military and serious. Which is no doubt the reason pundits have latched onto it. But it’s gotten to where I can’t read an article on without running into it (or its flatter cousin, “lives and treasure”).

One good thing about “blood and treasure” is that it forced me to look up what kind of rhetorical device it is. The Handbook of Rhetorical Devices was the first hit on Google and was exactly what I wanted. “Blood” is a synecdoche, where a part is used to stand for the whole—the “hand” in “hired hand,” for example. “Treasure” is metonym, where something closely allied is substituted for the thing itself—referring to reporters as “the press” is a common example.

According to the Wikipedia (which I probably should have thought of before Google), synecdoche is a form of metonymy and is pronounced “sin-EK-duh-kee,” sort of like Schenectady. In fact—and this is something only Google would tell you—there is a blog called , written by a professor of writing at Syracuse University. I bet she thinks “blood and treasure” is hackneyed, too.