“The past six months have been incredibly difficult for me,” she told the publication. “I’ve been working with a writer on my book, Brutally Honest, and it has been unbelievably traumatic reliving an emotionally abusive relationship and confronting so many massive issues in my life.

According to this dictionary, publication can mean:


  1. the act of publishing a book, periodical, map, piece of music, engraving, or the like.

  2. the act of bringing before the public; announcement.

  3. the state or fact of being published.

  4. something that is published, esp. a periodical.

None of them seems fit. I guess publication means publishing house or an agency that provides the publishing service.

So, what does it truly mean here?

The full source.

  • 1
    I think it has been liberally used but I think "Publisher" would have been a rather suitable choice. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 5:43

2 Answers 2


This is a case of metonymy, where the publication refers to one or more human representatives of the publication (the organizational entity), such as a reporter and/or editor and/or publisher.


I told the company about the defect in its product.

We cannot speak directly to a company, of course. We speak (eventually) with a human contact there.

  • But according to the dictionary, none of 4 definitions tells publication can mean the organizational entity.
    – dan
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 11:35
  • 1
    @dan : You should write to the dictionary and tell them about it. Oh, and you'd better see if dictionary can refer to the organizational entity while you're at it, and tell the dictionary about that too, if applicable.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 11:41
  • As a second language learner, I just rely on dictionaries too much. Maybe, that's not a good way.
    – dan
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 11:49
  • 1
    @dan: We can do this with any "manned" entity. So you would not expect to find "can also refer to the organizational entity" under every such noun. Why not call the lost and found and ask them if they have your glasses. or You should tell the website of their error.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 11:59

In this case, it's the fourth sense of the definition that you quoted:

  1. something that is published, esp. a periodical.

It's not being used literally. It doesn't mean that she held a newspaper in her hand and spoke to it. Instead, she was speaking to somebody who represented the newspaper.

In a previous paragraph from the same story that you cited:

“I have made the decision to go into a proper therapy [program] in the next few weeks, but it has to be in the UK because I am very, very British and I know that will work best for me,” she told The Sun in a statement on Sunday.

So, the publication in question is The Sun. Rather than repeating The Sun again, the author chose to use a common noun instead—in the same way that pronouns are used in place of names.

Note that saying "she told The Sun" is also not to be taken literally. As with "she told the publication," "she told The Sun" just means that she spoke to somebody working at the company.

The company has the same name as the actual newspaper itself and is being used in a general sense. You could consider it to be an idiomatic use of language.

If you don't give me money to keep quiet, I'm going to go to The New York Times.

In a similar fashion, this means that the person is going to walk into the office building of the company The New York Times which produces the newspaper The New York Times. (And, by implication, talk to somebody there in order to make known some piece of scandal.)

It would actually not be idiomatic to say "The New York Times newspaper agency" or "The New York Times publishing house" because we use a shorter form of expression in normal communication.

  • The sun is more like a publisher rather than a publication in this case in my view.
    – dan
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:09
  • @dan Although correct, I, personally, would not refer to it as a publication as the author of the story did. I would refer to it as a newspaper. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:14
  • but a publication could just be a newspaper. I can understand "she told The Sun", because The Sun can stand for the company's name. But publication has no way to stand for a company.
    – dan
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:46
  • Or maybe, the publication here does refer to the publication company or agency?
    – dan
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:52
  • 1
    @dan I'm going to give that publication a piece of my mind! I have no problem understanding this as meaning that you're going to complain to somebody at the company responsible for publishing something you've read. (The use of publication as opposed to magazine or journal or newspaper is an odd specific word choice—but the principle is the same.) In this news story, publication is referring to The Sun. A publishing company (at least with books) often produces several imprints. Here, the publication is more specific—the group of people responsible for one in particular. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:56

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