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What is a Homonym? (Definition, Examples, Differences to Homophones)

What is a homonym? Is it exactly like a homophone? How are they different? Or are they different at all? These are all great questions that will get answered in this complete guide about homonyms. Continue reading to learn more.

What is a Homonym?

A homonym refers to words that have the same spelling, and the exact same pronunciation, but differ in the meaning they convey. In such cases, it is impossible to understand what one is trying to convey without the context.



According to Merriam-Webster, a homonym is “one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning”

It is derived from the Greek word ‘Homonymos,’ which means “having the same name.”

For example, consider the word ‘bat.’

Bat – It has two different meanings

  • A mammal that can see in the dark.
  • A piece of wood is cut in a specific way and used in the game of baseball, cricket or table tennis to hit the ball.

Similarly, the word ‘address‘ has 2 different meanings depending on context.

  • The location of a place is its address.
  • To talk to a person or a group of people.

Understanding Homonym vs. Homophone

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling and the precisely same pronunciation but differ in the meaning they convey. Homophones are words with the same pronunciation but differ in spelling and the meaning they convey.

Homophones are a kind of homonym.

Let’s now look at a few examples of homophones:

  • Aural and Oral
  • Quire and Choir
  • Ascent and Assent
  • Dual and Duel
  • Hour and Our
  • Beat and Beet
  • Fined and Find
  • Disburse and Disperse
  • Band and Banned
  • Eve and Eave
  • Gait and Gate
  • Break and Brake
  • Here and Hear
  • Islet and Eyelet
Homonym examples
Homonym examples

Examples of homophones (meaning and use)

Advice and Advise

Advice – Get advice from an expert before you invest in the stock market.

Advise – The captain was strongly advised by the doctor to take rest and not play the next game.

Weather and Whether

Weather – Wear suitable clothes during cold weather or you will fall sick.

Whether – I asked Paul whether he had any intentions of joining us in community service.

Baron and Barren

Baron – Gina’s elder brother is a media baron.

Barren – The local community has worked tirelessly to transform the barren land into a tourist site.

Dual and Duel

Dual – Louis De Broglie suggested the idea of wave-particle duality.

Duel – Hector had no other option but to agree to the duel.

Hew and Hue

Hew – The dwellers of the Silent Valley took hours to sharpen the axe before hewing the log.

Hue – When white light passes through droplets of water, it splits into seven different hues, which is what we call a rainbow.

Bolder and Boulder

Bolder – Her continuous intrusion into Delta dynamics, coupled with little resistance from the team, made Asha even bolder.

Boulder – Even though Bryan was explicitly instructed to keep in mind the boulders on the slope, he paid no heed much to his peril.

Homonym vs homograph
Homonym vs homograph

Homograph vs Homonym

Homonym refers to words that have the exact spelling and the precisely same pronunciation but differ in the meaning they convey. Whereas Homophograph (or Homograph) refers to words that have the exact spelling but differ in pronunciation and the meaning, they convey.

Consider a few examples of homographs:

Lead –

Meaning 1: a metal

Meaning 2: being ahead in a competition

Minute –

Meaning 1: sixty seconds

Meaning 2: something very small

Bank –

Meaning 1: an institution that deals with financial transactions

Meaning 2: the piece of land at the horizontal edges of a river

Close –

Meaning 1: to shut

Meaning 2: to be near someone or something

Letter –

Meaning 1: the alphabet

Meaning 2: a piece of paper containing some kind of a message

Bow –

Meaning 1: to bend your upper body in respect

Meaning 2: a curved piece of wood whose ends are tied up together by a string.

Firm –

Meaning 1: an organization/ company

Meaning 2: the quality of being rigid, not changing its shape under an applied force

Fan –

Meaning 1: a person who respects and supports another person

Meaning 2: an electronic appliance

Class –

Meaning 1: different grades in school

Meaning 2: being elegant or stylish in appearance or behavior

Does –

Meaning 1: a group of female deer

Meaning 2: the present form of the verb ‘do’

Examples of Homograph (with their meanings)


Dates are good for health. But you should consume them within limits.

It is not an easy task to remember the dates of important events in history. The Internet has largely obviated the need to.


One of Timothy’s finest attributes is his liveliness, the prime reason behind his meteoric rise.

As a mark of respect, the captain of the host team attributed the victory to the oldest player in the team, who was going to retire.


As soon as the spy got the coordinates of the hideouts, he immediately drove down to the head office.

It was thanks mainly to the improved coordination of various departments that the takeover bid was solved quickly and efficiently.


Don’t proceed any further unless you have understood and practiced the previous concepts thoroughly.

The net proceeds of the company were likely to break all the previous records and reach an all-time high.


The new recruit refused to take any bribe, just as the bosses had expected.

No refuse must be littered on the roads or beaches; every speck on the street is a potential threat to our blue flag certificate.


It took years of patience and dedicated hard work by the researchers to find the right amount of chemicals to form the compound, which would prove to be a life-saving one.

Being the senior police official, Ramon decided to calm the crowd and promised them immediate legal action to not compound the problem.

Understanding the difference between Synonym, Antonym, and Homonym

  • Synonyms – Two words having similar or the same meanings. For example – Terrible and Horrible.
  • Antonyms – Two words that mean the exact opposite. For example – Front and Back.
  • Homonyms – Words that convey a different meaning but have the same sound and spelling. For example – Kind (Generous, or a type)

Understanding the difference between a Paronym and Homonym

Paronym – Paronyms are those words whose phonemic representations are similar. They are derived from the same root word.

Example – Adjacent and Adjoining.


1. Adjacent and Adjoining

He was waiting for his turn in an adjacent room.

The thieves were hiding in the adjoining room when the police rushed in.

2. Wrest and rest

Wrest – The momentum was wrestled back by the Islanders after remaining behind for most of the initial hour of the game.

Rest – Saul was advised by the doctors to take adequate rest in order to heal faster.

Homonym examples

Let’s now take a look at some examples of Homonyms.

  • Theirs and There’s
  • It’s and Its
  • Won and One
  • Accede and Exceed
  • Plane and Plain
  • Fare and Fair
  • Who’s and Whose
  • Blue and Blew
  • New and Knew
  • No and Know

More examples of Homonyms

Break and Brake

Break – Everyone in the class played soccer or cricket for half an hour during the lunch break.

Brake – Had Jessie not pulled the brakes in time, the child would have been seriously injured.

Chilli and Chile

Chilli – Chilli and other spices are often used to make food more delicious.

Chile – Chile is not just a beautiful country. It is surprisingly affordable as well.

Clime and Climb

Clime – The clime of these islands is continuously changing for the worse due to changes in atmospheric processes brought about by humans.

Climb – Climbing a rope is hard, but nothing that a pair of solid forearms could not accomplish.


The band practiced a lot before their performance, which helped them improvise when the tuning went off on D-day.

Alyssa tied her hair up in a ponytail with the help of a band she found in her make-up kit.


What is the difference between homonyms, homophones, and homographs?
  • Homonym – Same spelling and sound, but different meaning
  • Homophone – Same sound, but different spelling and meaning.
  • Homograph – Same spelling, but different sound and meaning.
What are examples of homonyms?
  • I and Eye
  • Ate and Eight
  • Plain and plane
  • Ear and Year
Is every Homophone a kind of Homonym?



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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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