Thursday, September 16, 2010


Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings.

Words like tear (prounced TARE meaning rip or cut) and tear (pronounced TEER meaning liquid shed from our eyes due to pain or happiness) are examples of heteronyms.
Homonyms, homographs, and heteronyms share some similarities while being distinctly different.

The word heteronyms comes from combining the Greek prefix hetero (ετερο) meaning "other" or "different" and suffix onyma (ονωμα) meaning "name." So, the spelling is the same but the meaning is 'other' or different.

Some common heteronyms are listed below with an example for each.

abuse (a-BYOOZ) = abuse a substance
abuse (a-BYOOS) = substance abuse

bow (BAHW) = port, starboard, bow, and stern
bow (BOE) = bow tie

close (KLOS) = close call
close (KLOZ) = close the window

desert (DEZ-urt) = dry, arid place with little rain
desert (di-ZURT) = abandon, leave

entrance (EN-truns) = door, place to go in at
entrance (en-TRANS) = cause delight, spellbind

fine (FINE) = nice, a fine day
fiine (FEE-nay) = musical term, ending

incense (in-SENS) = infuriate
incense (IN-sens) = perfumed sticks for burning

lead (LED) = common metal
lead (LEED) = direct, show the way

object (ob-JEKT) = disapprove
object (OB-jekt) = a thing

pasty (PAY-stee) = paste-like
pasty (PASS-tee) = meat pie

supply (su-PLY) = provide, make provision
supply (SUP-lee) = in a supple or smooth way

wind (WIND) = moving air currents
wind (WINED) = to turn

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