The word homonym comes from the Greek (homonumos), meaning "having the same name", which is the conjunction of "homos" (common, same) and "onoma" (name). Thus, it refers to two or more distinct concepts sharing the "same name" or signifier.

A homonym is both a homophone and a homograph!


A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning The word derives from the Greek "homo-" (same), and "phone" (voice, utterance).


A homograph [from the Greek homós (same) and gráph (write")] is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. When spoken, the meanings may be distinguished by different pronunciations, in which case the words are also heteronyms. Words with the same writing and pronunciation (i.e. homographs and homophones) are considered homonyms.

However, in a looser sense the term "homonym" may be applied to words with the same writing or pronunciation. Homograph disambiguation is critically important in speech synthesis, natural language processing and other fields. Identically-written different senses of what is judged to be fundamentally the same word are called polysemes; for example, wood (substance) and wood (area covered with trees).

Related terms

Term Meaning Spelling Pronunciation
Homonym Different Same Same
Homograph Different Same Same or different
Homophone Different Same or different Same
Heteronym Different Same Different
Heterograph Different Different Same
Polyseme Different but related Same Same or different
Capitonym Different when
Same except for
Same or different
Synonym Same Different Different
Definition of HOMONYM
	a : homophone
	b : homograph
	c : one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike 
		but different in meaning (as the noun quail and the verb quail)
2	: namesake
3	: a taxonomic designation rejected as invalid because the 
	identical term has been used to designate another group 
	of the same rank . compare synonym . hom·onym·ic adjective

See homonym defined for English-language learners »
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Examples of HOMONYM 
    The noun .bear. and the verb .bear. are homonyms.

Origin of HOMONYM
Latin homonymum, from Greek hom.nymon, from neuter of hom.nymos
First Known Use: 1697
Other Language Terms
cognate, collocation
Rhymes with HOMONYM
acronym, anonym, antonym, cryptonym, eponym, metonym, paronym, pseudonym, 
retronym, seraphim, synonym, tautonym, toponym, underbrim

Can you find all nine homophones
for the stuff you breathe?
A   B . C   D   E   F   G   H  
I   I   J   K   L   M   N   O  
P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W  
X   Y   Z