Definition: What is a homograph?

  • Homographs are two or more words spelled the same but have different meanings and origins.

Some people suggest that homographs also have to sound different and have different pronunciations. The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography tries to mitigate this confusion by classifying different types of homographs. For example, a word spelled the same as another but with a different meaning is called a homograph.

How do you identify a homograph?

Remember, homographs are words that can sound different but have the exact spelling. Take a look at these 20 examples of homographs.

  • Park – a public play area or to bring a vehicle to a stop and leave it temporarily.
  • Bat – a type of sports equipment or an animal.
  • Bass – a type of fish or a genre of music.
  • Minute – small or a unit of time.
  • Crane – a bird or a machine used at construction sites.
  • Tear – to rip something or the liquid that flows from the eyes when crying.
  • Bow – a weapon for shooting arrows or a formal way of greeting or showing respect.
  • Saw – a sharp tool used for cutting hard materials or past tense for the word “see”.
  • Pen – an object used for writing or a small area in which animals are kept.
  • Lean – thin or to rest against something.
  • Skip – a fanciful jump or to miss out on something.
  • Close – to be near something or to shut.
  • May – you might do something or the month of May.
  • Type – how you use a keyboard or a specific class of something.
  • Miss – a female title or overlooking.
  • Blue – feeling depressed or the color.
  • Train – a mode of transport or to coach somebody.
  • Fair – a place to enjoy some rides or the act of being reasonable.
  • Bag – secure something or a holdall.
  • Slip – a fielding position or a fall.

Take a look at these sentences that we can create with homographs:

Cotton candy was popular at the fair as the children enjoyed the rides.

It’s only fair that we all adhere to the rules.

Can you see that the word fair is the homograph here?

Let’s try another couple.

The boys were excited to take the train to see the baseball game.

I need to train to become more skilled at tennis

Our teacher is called Miss. Thomson.

It was the second time she had to miss gym class this week.

What is the difference between Homograph, Homonym, and Homophone?

Homonym – Homographs pronounced the same have their separate classification and are called ‘homonyms’.

Examples of homonyms include the words “bark”, “match”, and “mat.” These are words that can still have different meanings.

Homophone – Homophones are words that share the same pronunciation but have different spellings. The ‘phone’ part in the homophone means sound.

Examples of homophones include the words “write” and “right”, “knight” and “night”, and the terms “see” and “sea.” They sound the same but have very different meanings.

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