same spelling, different meaning

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same spelling, different meaning

Post by Archived Topic » Thu Jan 03, 2002 12:17 am

What is the word to describe words which are spelt the same but have different meanings and pronunciations, e.g. wind, close?

Submitted by Adrian Monaghan (aidy - Ireland)

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Adrian, I’m not sure that there is a specific word for what you are looking for. I think the closest you are going to get is HOMOGRAPH which is one of two or more words spelled alike but differing in meaning and possibly [but not necessarily] pronunciation (‘bear’ to support and ‘bear’ the animal; ‘lead’ to conduct and ‘lead’ the metal; ‘sewer’ conduit for waste and ‘sewer’ person who sews). I can’t think of a word that would specifically imply same spelling but different meaning AND different pronunciation – but there might be.

Ken G – August 4, 2004

Response from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)

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Adrian, the Wordweb electronic dictionary clarifies all this most splendidly:

Two words are homographs if they are spelled the same way but differ in meaning (e.g. fair).

Two words are homonyms if they are pronounced or spelled the same way but have different meanings.

Two words are homophones if they are pronounced the same way but differ in meaning or spelling or both (e.g. bare and bear).

Similarly, the online Merriam-Webster (m-w.com) defines these words as follows:

Main Entry: ho·mo·graph
Pronunciation: 'hä-m&-"graf, 'hO-
Function: noun
: one of two or more words spelled alike but different in meaning or derivation or pronunciation (as the bow of a ship, a bow and arrow)

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Main Entry: hom·onym
Pronunciation: 'hä-m&-"nim, 'hO-
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin homonymum, from Greek homOnymon, from neuter of homOnymos
1 a : HOMOPHONE b : HOMOGRAPH c : one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning (as the noun quail and the verb quail)
2 : NAMESAKE
3 : a taxonomic designation rejected as invalid because the identical term has been used to designate another group of the same rank -- compare SYNONYM
- hom·onym·ic /"hä-m&-'ni-mik, "hO-/ adjective

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Main Entry: ho·mo·phone
Pronunciation: 'hä-m&-"fOn, 'hO-
Function: noun
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary
1 : one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (as the words to, too, and two)
2 : a character or group of characters pronounced the same as another character or group
- ho·moph·o·nous /hO-'mä-f&-n&s/ adjective

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There, that should clear up any confusion.

Response from Erik Kowal ( - England)
Submitted by jim Ransom (London - England)
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same spelling, different meaning

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Jan 03, 2002 12:32 am

Adrian, I found an ‘unofficial’ word for a word that is spelled the same and has a different meaning and pronunciation. According to the ‘Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar’ under the heading ‘homograph it says, “Another term, emphasizing the different pronunciation (rather than the identical spelling) is HETEROPHONE.” What I don’t like about this word is that it doesn’t directly telegraph the fact that the words are spelled the same, but just assumes if you are talking about different sounds you must also be talking about words that are spelled the same. And, incidentally, it didn’t appear in any dictionaries that I checked.
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A website of unknown pedigree, http://www.psc.edu/~burkardt/wordplay/e ... words.html” proposes three names for these so-called ‘equivocal words.’
“An ‘equivocal’ word can be pronounced in two different ways, meaning two different things [[but spelled the same]] . . . . . It is actually difficult to find a standard name for this object. We ‘might’ call this a ‘homogram’, ‘homograph’, HETEROPHONE, ‘heteronym’ or ‘heterovox.’” It is noted that these are just his rhetorical proposals and some of these words may already have other meanings [[homograph does – includes same or different pronunciations]]. But again, these proposals suffer from the weakness that the ‘homos’ don’t specifically tell you that the pronunciation is different and the ‘heteros’ don’t specifically tell you that the spelling is the same.
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Ken G – August 5, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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same spelling, different meaning

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Jan 03, 2002 12:46 am

Are Erik and jim then synonyms? And is Homophone II a cinematographic production regarded as invalid because the identical film has already been released?
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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same spelling, different meaning

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Jan 03, 2002 1:01 am

Edwin, perhaps you can tell me where I can see Homophone II (or Homophone I, for that matter)?

PS - Does it have tits?
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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same spelling, different meaning

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Jan 03, 2002 1:15 am

No, Erik, that was the one by Hitchcock.
They'll probably release "Homophone XXIII" or whatever they're up to shortly - it'll look (and sound) exactly the same.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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