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Homonyms vs. Homophones vs. Homographs

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The words homonym, homophone, and homograph are grammatical terms that are easy to confuse with one another because their meanings are all closely related, so let’s go through each one of them and see what the differences are.

Origin:

The word homonym originated in late 17th century: via Latin from Greek homōnumon, neuter of homōnumos ‘having the same name’, from homos ‘same’ + onoma ‘name’.

Homonym as noun:

Homonym is used as a noun to describe each of two or more words having the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings and origins.

Examples:

Bear and bear

Can and can

Band and band

Kind and kind

Homophone as noun:

Homophone is used as a noun to describe each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling

Examples:

Air and heir

Some and sum

Steal and steel

Tail and tale

Homograph as noun:

Homograph is used as a noun to describe each of two or more words spelled the same but not necessarily pronounced the same and having different meanings and origins.

Examples:

Bow and bow

Bass and bass

Fine and fine

Row and row

Homophones or homographs or homonyms:

Homonyms can refer to both homographs and homophones. Homographs are words that are spelled alike but not always pronounced the same. Homophones are words that are pronounced alike but not always spelled the same.

 

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