Homonym Meaning

‘Homonym meaning’ is something that is among the top searches on the Internet, and rightfully so – a lot of people are not quite certain what a homonym is or what it describes. Before talking about homonyms, let’s talk about how 2 or more words can be similar. They can:

  • Have the same meaning 
  • Have the same spelling
  • Sound the same when spoken

If two words sound different and have different meanings, but mean the same thing, they are called synonyms. Examples of synonyms are:

  • Buy and purchase 
  • Get and acquire 
  • Increase and raise

If two or more words mean the same thing and are spelled the same, they are not exactly given a certain name, but an example of it would be the word ‘the’. It is pronounced as ‘the’ and ‘thee’ depending on the accent or situation. Another example would be ‘about’ – where it is pronounced ‘aboot’ in Canadian English. 

If words have the same meaning and sound alike but are spelled differently, they are simply spelling variants. For example:

  • Rigour and rigor
  • Mould and mold
  • Barbeque and barbecue

Words that sound the same, but have different meanings and spellings are called heterographs. Examples would be:

  • Blue and blew
  • Rain and reign 
  • Phase and face
  • Bear and bare

Words that look the same but sound different and mean different things are called heterophones. Examples of heterophones include:

  • Tear (to rip apart) and tear (a single drop of tear)
  • Record (to record audio) and record (an account of something)

Now, we get to the topic at hand – homonym meaning. So, words that look the same and sound the same, but have different meanings are called homonyms. Examples of homonyms would be:

  • Skate (to slide along) and skate (type of fish)
  • Bank (financial) and bank (of a river)
  • Right (correct) and right (direction).

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