Homographs are words with different pronunciation, meanings and origins but the same spelling. They are not to be confused with homonyms, homophones and heteronyms. In order to work out which pronunciation and which meaning is appropriate, you need to be aware of the context. Here are a few homographs and their meanings:
- agape – with mouth open OR love
- bass – type of fish OR low, deep voice
- bat - piece of sports equipment OR an animal
- bow – type of knot OR to incline
- down – a lower place OR soft fluff on a bird
- entrance – the way in OR to delight
- evening – smoothing out OR after sunset
- fine – of good quality OR a levy
- learned – past tense of learn OR knowledgeable
- minute – tiny OR unit of time
- moped – was gloomy OR motorcyle
- number – more numb OR numerical value
- row – line OR argument OR propel a boat
- sewer – drain OR person who sews
- wave – move the hand in greeting OR sea water coming into shore
- wound – past tense of wind OR to injure
Linguist John Higgins has prepared a comprehensive list of homographs in various categories, including those where the meanings are related but the part of speech and pronunciation change.
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