What is a Homonym

What is a Homonym

Homonyms are words that share the same pronunciation but different meanings. Some homonyms share the same spellings whereas some don’t. Before moving on to discuss more details about homonyms, let us first briefly look at other linguistic categories of words.

Homophones: words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings and spellings

Homograph: words that have the same spellings but different meanings.

Heteronyms: words that have the same spellings, but different pronunciation and meaning

Term

Spelling

Pronunciation

Meaning

Homonym

same or different

same

different

Homophone

different

same

different

Homograph

same

same or different

different

Heteronyms

same

different

different

You’ll note from the above definitions that homonyms contain qualities of both homophones (words having the same pronunciation, regardless of their spelling) and homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of their pronunciation). Homonyms are simultaneously both homographs and homophones. The relationship between a set of homonyms is known as homonymy.

The relation between homonyms and other word categories can be closely observed from the diagram below.  The area between blue and green indicates homonyms.What is a Homonym

Examples of Homonyms

Homonyms that have the same spelling (homographs)

Bank (financial establishment/ river bank)

He was the president of the bank.

He went to the river bank.

Bear (animal/tolerate)

The bear came closer.

I can’t bear this anymore.

Fast (quick/ abstain from food)

Don’t drive fast.

Don’t break your fast.

Fair (reasonable/public gathering)

He is a fair judge.

We went to the country fair.

Homonyms that have different spelling (homophones)

Dear/deer

He is very dear to me.

The lion chased a deer.

Root/route

The root of the tree absorbs water and necessary nutrients.

They changed the route at the last minute.

Serf/surf

The serf was punished by the feudal lord.

He loves to surf.

Allowed/aloud

Pets are not allowed inside.

‘Watch out’ he shouted aloud.

Straight/strait

She had straight black hair.

The Strait of Gibraltar is the entry point into the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

Stair/stare

She came up the stairs.

She stares at him in amazement.

Meddle/medal

Don’t meddle in their affair.

She won a gold medal.

From the above examples, it becomes clear that a homonym can be either a homophone or a homograph.

Homonyms in Literature

Given below are some excerpts from literature where homonyms have been used.

Sole owner am I of this sorry soul

pour out corruption’s slag from every pore

whole slates scrape clean! they leave no gaping hole.

(Where Truth’s Wind Blew by Venicebard)

 

HAMLET: I will speak to this fellow.—Whose grave’s this, sirrah?

GRAVEDIGGER Mine, sir.

HAMLET: I think it be thine, indeed, for thou liest in ’t.

GRAVEDIGGER: You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is mine.

HAMLET: Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine. ‘Tis for the dead, not for the quick. Therefore thou liest.

(Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

Homonym – Summary

  • Homonyms are words that share the same pronunciation but different meanings, regardless of their spelling.
  • Homonym can be either a homophone or a homograph.

Image Courtesy:

“Homograph homophone Venn diagram” by Homograph_homophone_venn_diagram.png: Will Heltsleyderivative   via

About the Author: admin


Related pages


dextrin formulais swimming pool a compound nounaccumulative definitionwhat is the difference between flirting and being friendlydifference between ascorbic acid and vitamin cwhat is the difference between a codon and an anticodonfeminism and gender equalitydifference between gram positive and negative cell wallassonance poetry definitionwhat is the population of abu dhabidefine acculturationbryophyte characteristicscharacteristics of omnivoresdifference between absorption and adsorptionwhat is the difference between radial and bilateral symmetryamoebic dysentery signs and symptomshow do transverse waves differ from longitudinal wavesexample of cacophony in poetrydifference between a motel and a hotelthe good samaritan moraldifference between cancer and cystindian flag tricolour meaningsimple microscope diagramlc of vernier caliperdefinition of hereditary diseasedefinition novellahamlet themes and motifsgerman shepherd belgian malinoisalligator bigger than crocodileexamples of conceitsdefine madamdifference between bit & byteproverbs and idiomsexample of interrogative adjectivevowels and consonants meaningexample of unsaturated fatsldl hdl differenceunbranched alkanesanother word for effectedwhat is a homographsoxymoron paradoxassimilation according to piagetgesture posturefennel and cumindefinition sliding frictionwhats an appositivedifference between delirium and delusionunicellular organisms examplesunits of thermal diffusivitydifferences between dna and rna nucleotidesdifference between a polar and nonpolar moleculejuxtaposition poetry definitiondefinition of comedy of mannerswhat is the opposite of prologuedifference between starch and glycogendiamante poem exampleshow a colorimeter worksdifferences between yams and sweet potatoespst vs edtdifferences between yam and sweet potatodefinition of reciprocatingdifference between river and glacierspring roll vs egg roll wrapperswhats the difference between sexual and asexual reproductionblack hole wormholeare jungles and rainforests the samewhat is the denotative meaning of a wordcilia and flagella differencechemical formula nitriteradicle definitionindian flag colours meaningwhat does arrogance is bliss meandifference between potassium and potassium gluconateligroin molecular weightis citric acid vitamin cmeaning of pulses in foodchemical formula of nitrite3 examples of a pure substancedifference between patient and patiencewhat is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy