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Homonyms – definition
Homonyms are words which are spelled the same, but which have different meanings.
bear – an animal
bear – to carry
bore – to drill a hole
bore – a tedious person
down – at a lower part
down – bird’s feathers
draft – preliminary sketch
draft – a money order
The apparent similarities in these words sometimes causes confusion — particularly to non-native speakers.
Such words may or may not have the same etymological origins.
NB! Homonyms are a rich source of puns in English.
Strictly speaking, homonyms may be broken down into two different categories – homophones and homographs.
Homophones are words which are pronounced in the same way, but which have different spellings:
threw flung through from end to end bow incline from the waist bough large tree-branch
Homographs are words which have the same spelling, but which are pronounced differently:
lead a heavy metal lead to walk in front wind air movement wind to coil
One reason for these similarities is that spelling is only a rough approximation to pronunciation.
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© Roy Johnson 2003