Hello everyone and welcome to my brief, (and hopefully not confusing) post about the difference between homophone, homonyms, and homographs.

Now, to understand homophone, homonyms, and homographs I’m going to break down each word, explain what each words means, and give you examples for each word. In this situation we are exploring the Greek definition of homo, not the Latin definition of homo. English is a complicated mistress filled with pieces of every language and varying rules… so I apologize in advance.

All right! So, the Greek definition of homo means “the same”, “equal to”, “similar to”.

Knowing that we understand the beginning of homophone, homonym, and homograph mean “the same”.

HOMOPHONE:

Homo = the same, equal to, similar to

Phone means “a speech sound” or “sound”. Think phonetically or phonics.

Put those two words together and you get homophone, meaning: “the same sound”. When we make that connection we can then understand the definition of homophone being two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, spelling, or origins.

Examples of homophones are:
  • New & knew
  • Except & Accept
  • By, Bye, Buy, & Bi
  • Bee & Be
  • Their, They’re, There
  • To, Too, Two
  • Peak, Peek, Pique
  • Bare & Bear
  • Effect & Affect
  • Then & Than
  • Which & Witch
  • Hear & Here
  • Weather & Whether
  • Aloud & Allowed
  • One & Won

Homophones can also be classified as homonyms  (if they’re spelled the same) – because English isn’t already confusing enough…

HOMONYMS:

Homo = the same, equal to, similar to

Nym in Greek means “name” or “word

In that sense homonym would then mean “the same name” or “the same word”. Homonyms are words spelt and pronounced alike but have different meanings. True Homonyms are words spelt the same but pronounced differently and have different meanings.

Examples of homonyms are:
Examples of true homonyms are:
  • Stalk: means stalk of corn or stalking prey
  • Wound: to be injured or to wind something up
  • Lie: to tell a lie or to lie down
  • Rose: to rise up or the flower
  • Address: to bring attention to something or your living/ working location
  • Object: to disagree or an item
  • More true homonyms for here

HOMOGRAPH:

Homo = the same, equal to, similar to (you’ll have that one memorized)

Graph means “write”.

Homograph then means “the same writing”. This means homographs are then words that are spelled the same but have different definitions. Homographs can be pronounced the same, or they can be pronounced differently.

So… yeah… you might have guess it already but some homographs are homophones and homonyms…

Examples of homographs:
  • record (a disc that plays things) or record (to save something to review later)
  • lead (the metal) or lead (to be the leader of a group/ take people somewhere)
  • Minute (a measurement of time) or minute (a small amount of something)

If you’re still unclear on what the differences are between homophone, homonym, and homograph check out the links below – as they may help explain some more of what I’ve covered above.

Writing Forward

Oxford Royale Academy

Magic Keys

Vocabulary.com