What is the difference between homophone and homonym?

In everyday contexts these two words are used interchangeably. But there is a difference in meaning between the two.

The word homophone comes from the Greek homo meaning same and phone meaning sound. Strictly speaking therefore, the word homophone is used to refer to words which sound alike, although they have a different spelling and meaning.

Here are a few examples:

mail, male; wear, ware; metal, mettle; etc.

A homonym, on the other hand, is used to refer to words which have the same spelling and pronunciation but have a different meaning.

Here are a few examples:

May (month), may (possibility); can (be able), can (put something in container); bear (the animal), bear (to carry).

As I mentioned earlier, this distinction is seldom maintained in everyday conversation. People in general tend to use homonym to mean homophone.

A note about the pronunciation: The first ``o'' in both the words is pronounced like the ``o'' in ``hot'', ``pot'', and ``got''. The second ``o'' is like the ``a'' in ``China''. It's the first syllable which has the stress in both words. This is one way of pronouncing the words.

COURTESY : The Hindu (The National News-Paper) - India

For The Complete List of Homonyms, Click Here !

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