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10 Confusing Homonyms: Part I [infographic]

  • July 8, 2013
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The Homonym Phenomenon!
Words that sound similar or are written the same but with different meanings are a notorious stumbling block for those learning English as a second language. In truth, native speakers have their share of trouble with them, too. Ten examples of homonyms and homophones and the accompanying infographic will clarify some of these frustrating words.

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What are Homonyms?

Homophones and homonyms are two types of words that are regularly confused with each other. There is a general tendency to pile all similar or same-sounding words under the heading of “homonym,” but this is incorrect. Homonyms are words with different meanings that have the same pronunciation and spelling; the word “blue,” for instance, can refer to either a color or a state of sadness. Homophones have different spellings and different meanings but have the same pronunciation, such as in the following examples.

All Together and Altogether
All at once or all in one place: “The family is usually all together at Mom’s house on Sunday.”
Completely or entirely: “Your brother is altogether insane.”

Appraise and Apprise
An estimation of financial value: “The Smith family had their home appraised last year.”
To advise or inform: “We need to apprise Fred of the situation.”

Council and Counsel
A body of advisors or managers: “I am a member of the Council of Semi-Important Persons.”
To advise: “Gina counseled the employees to be patient.”

Duel and Dual
A contest or fight between two people: “The knights drew their swords and began to duel.”
Comprised of two parts: “The dual purpose of a security guard is prevention and protection.”

Envelope and Envelop
A paper container used for mailing: “She licked the flap of the envelope and closed it.”
To surround or wrap: “The fog began to envelop the campground.”

Foreword and Forward
A book’s introduction: “In the foreword, the writer mentions his wife and children.”
Ahead or onward: “Always look forward when moving forward, or you may trip.”

Loose and Lose
Free or not tight: “The screw on the lamp is loose.”
Failing to retain possession of something: “I have several scarves in case I lose one.”

Peddle and Pedal
To sell something: “My brother peddles vacuums on the weekends for extra money.”
A lever operated with the feet: “She was going too fast, and one foot fell off its pedal.”

Stationary and Stationery
Unmoving or in a fixed position: “I did five miles on the stationary bike at the gym.”
Paper for writing: “The note was written on the hotel’s pink stationery.”

Wreath and Wreathe
A circular decoration: “There was a Christmas wreath of evergreens on every door.”
To encircle or envelop: “Warning scientists of a coming eruption, smoke began to wreathe the volcano.”

As previously stated, homonyms are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. Homographs, on the other hand, are written the same but have different meanings and different pronunciations. Can you name any homographs?

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