English is riddled with words that sound similar but have completely different meanings, and some words that sound similar have very different spellings. The infographic and 10 examples of homonyms and homophones will straighten some of this confusion out.
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What are Homonyms?
Words that sound similar and have different spellings and different meanings are generically referred to as homonyms. The terms “homophones and homonyms” are as confusing as the words they describe. By the strictest definition, homophones and homonyms both sound alike, but homophones are unique in that they are spelled differently.
Steel and Steal
A metal refined from iron: “The building had steel beams at its center.”
To take something belonging to another: “Don’t steal, or you will go to jail.”
Bow and Bow
A decoration for the hair: “Her hair was tied in a green bow.”
To bend down out of respect: “When the queen walks past, men bow to her.”
Aloud and Allowed
Out loud, as opposed to mentally: “Please read the next chapter aloud, Sarah.”
Permitted: “Cheeseburgers are not allowed on my diet, but I eat them anyway.”
Club and Club and Club
A solid object used as a tool or weapon: “I used my purse as a club and pounded the mugger’s head.”
A group sharing a similar interest or aim: “Bill joined the model train club.”
A commercial establishment for drinking and dancing: “Come to the club with me on Friday.”
Right and Write and Rite
Opposite direction of left: “The store will be on your right after the first stop sign.”
To place characters, words or symbols on a solid surface: “Write your name at the top of the test.”
A formal ceremony or ritual: “Many churches practice the rite of baptism.”
Sea and See
A large body of water: “The crab fisherman spent a month at sea.”
To view with the eyes: “He climbed the largest tree to see if he was near the forest’s edge.”
Fine and Fine and Fine
A monetary penalty: “The library gave Bubba a fine when he brought his book back late.”
Thin: “The necklace was made of fine strands of woven gold.”
Alright or okay: “She asked how I was, and I said I was fine.”
Doe and Dough and Dough
A female deer: “A buck has antlers; a doe does not.”
Flour-based mixture used to make baked products: “Roll the dough out on a floured surface.”
(Slang) money: “I have a lot of time but little dough.”
Die and Dye
To depart this life: “As sad as it is, all pets eventually die.”
A substance used to change an item’s color: “Veronica bought purple dye for her hair.”
Rock and Rock and Rock
A type of music: “Listening to rock will rot your brain, Mom always said.”
Gentle swaying motion: “Betty rocked her baby to coax him to sleep.”
A stone: “Billy Joe crammed a rock under the tire so his truck wouldn’t roll.”
It is more difficult to find words that are both spelled the same and pronounced the same, but there are plenty more than the examples in these lists. Can you think of any homonyms to add?