‘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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