Homonym, homophone or homograph?

26 Nov

A timely post, as I was discussing this, with examples, at home yesterday evening. Yes, that’s how we like to have fun here at Libro Towers: a bit of etymology of an evening …

We’ve already had one pair where I explain the difference between homo and hetero, so we know that the prefix “homo” will essentially introduce a word that’s all about two things being the same. But what happens when those words themselves all look horribly similar?

These three are quite similar-looking technical words used in English literature and linguistics. It is important to know the difference if you are working in these fields.

Homonyms have the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings (the word comes from the Greek – having the same name), for example, pole and Pole, pear and pare, but also bass and bass. The homonym is the main class of words, divided into homophones and homographs.

Homophones have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spellings, new and knew, beat and beet, fair and fare.

Homographs have the same spelling but different meanings, with either different pronunciations or the same pronunciation – for example bass (the deep singer) and bass (the fish), or cleave (separate) and cleave (join together).

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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One response to “Homonym, homophone or homograph?

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