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What are Homographs

There are different types of words in English. These are categorized in many ways like synonyms, antonyms, homonyms and so on.

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  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
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We are all familiar with synonyms – they are words that mean the same thing. For rich writing, we use different words in different situations to convey the same thing – for example, I can say that ‘he is a prominent personality’ or ‘he is an eminent person’ and so on. How we present our thoughts and words define us and it is important to know different ways of expressing the same thing. That’s why we need synonyms.

Quite contrary to synonyms, homonyms are the words that have same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings and origin. For example, ‘bear’ is an animal and ‘bear’ also means to tolerate something or someone! Homonyms are of two kindshomophones and homographs.

Homophones are words that sound same but have different spellings and meaning. For example, right and write, maid and made, sight and site etc… Check out this article on homophones to know more examples.

Homographs are words that have same spelling but can be used in different meanings and/or pronunciations. For examples – wind, bear, founded, wound, row, evening, bat etc…

Some common homographs

Wind

The usual pronunciation is similar to ‘I’ in the words ‘is’ or ‘in’. Wind means blowing air. For example, “it is very windy today”, or “be careful otherwise food can get stuck in your wind-pipe.”

The other meaning has a different pronunciation as w-‘ie’-nd as in grind, bind or mind. This means something that can be twisted or take a different course or to bring something to a closure. For example,

·         Before winding up the meeting, I want to congratulate everyone for their hard work.

·         Can you re-wind the tape for me, I want to hear the previous song!

·         This resort is our favorite destination for unwinding ourselves. (unwind is the antonym (opposite) of wind)

Founded

Found is the past tense of find, which means to look for something. ‘We found a gold ring in the park’.

Found is also a verb that means to start an enterprise or a new venture. ‘We founded this company in 2006.’

Check out more about founded in this detailed article.

Row

Row is a horizontal line of something – a queue, a line of seats, a line of buildings etc… For example, “We were sitting in the front row, so we could see everything written on the board.”

To row a boat, is to propel it with oars. “Row your boat, gently down the stream.”

Evening

Evening out a surface means to smooth it out. Evening comes from the word ‘even’ which means to make something smooth.

Evening also refers to the time between noon and night. For example, 4pm to 6pm is considered as evening time.

Read more about the two meanings of evening here.

Tear

To tear a paper or cloth is to pull it into pieces by using some force.

Tear is also the salty water that comes from eyes when we are happy or sad.

Present

Present is the current moment (tense). For example, we should always live in the present and not worry too much about the future!

It is also a gift that you give to someone. For example, she got so many presents on her birthday!

Desert

Desert means to leave or abandon a place or a person. For example, people deserted the area because of the lack of facilities.

Desert also means a dry area of land with no access to water or vegetation. Desert is covered with sand. For example, Rajasthan has so many deserts, but one has to be prepared to visit them.

Fine

Fine is to indicate something that is made very delicately or impressively. For example, she has made a fine piece of art using all the waste materials!

It also means very well, when someone exchanges pleasantries – “How are you?”, “I am doing fine.”

Fine is also a penalty one pays for a crime. For example, “A fine of Rs100 was levied on him for breaking the traffic rules.”

Bass

Bass is a type of fish.

Bass is also used for deep low-pitched voice.

Bass is also a genre for music.

Can you think of different meanings of the word bat? Let us know. Do you know more words that are homographs? Share with us and let us know too!

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