Definitions

sow ones oats

List of English homographs

Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (and may or may not have different pronunciations). This list consists largely or exclusively of homographs that are pronounced differently, also known as heteronyms.

Note: BrE = British English, AmE = American English. When not given, the pronunciation is believed to be the same in both dialects.

  • abstract
    • /ˈæb.ˌstɹækt/ (a), (n)
    • /ˌæb.ˈstɹækt/ (v)
  • abuse
    • /əbˈjus/ (n) There is a time, the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence, nor obtain protection.
    • /əbˈjuz/ (v) It is the characteristic of the English drunkard to abuse his wife and family.
  • address
    • AmE and BrE /ə.ˈdrɛs/ (v)
    • AmE /ˈæ.drɛs/ BrE /ə.ˈdrɛs/ (n)
  • allied
    • /əˈlaɪd/ (a) The vice is of a great kindred: it is well allied.
    • /ˈælaɪd/ (a) The Treaty of Vienna..had bound the Allied Powers to make war together upon Napoleon.
  • ally
    • /ˈælaɪ/ (n) He became the ally of a boy named Aubrey Mills and founded with him a gang of adventurers in the avenue.
    • /əˈlaɪ/ (v) No foreign power will ally with us.
  • articulate
    • /ɑɹˈtɪkjəˌleɪt/ (v) The tourists are the ones who always try to articulate every syllable when they speak the language.
    • /ɑɹˈtɪkjələt/ (a) In one decade, the image of youth went from radicals uttering rage-filled rhetoric to the much less articulate valley girl or surfer wannabe.
  • axes
    • /ˈæk.səz/ (v) The lumberjack axes the trees to the ground. (third-person singular simple present of to axe/ax)
    • /ˈæk.səz/ (n) I cut down the tree with two axes. (plural of axe/ax)
    • /ˈæk.siz/ (n) The x and y axes intersect at (0,0). (plural of axis)
  • ay/aye
    • /ɑɪ/ (adv) He voted aye on the legislation he had sponsored.
    • /eɪ/ (adv) They vowed their undying love for aye.
  • bass
    • /beɪs/ (n) Joey auditioned for the band while it was seeking someone to play bass.
    • /bæs/ (n) The store was selling an animatronic bigmouth bass that would open its mouth and sing "Take Me to the River" whenever someone passed by.
  • bow
    • /baʊ/ (v) Satoshi always made sure to bow before the emperor.
    • /boʊ/ (n) The hordes of warriors making their way through the forest fought with bow and arrow.
  • buffet
    • AmE /bəˈfeɪ/ BrE /ˈbʌ.feɪ/ (n) Steamed clams, prawns in mustard sauce and barbecued lamb with cilantro sat at the left edge of the buffet table.
    • /ˈbʌfət/ (v) It takes a catastrophe every now and then to buffet the nation out of its laziness and complacency.
  • celtic
    • /ˈkɛltək/ (n, atrributive) The bagpipers, three in number, screamed, during the whole time of dinner, a tremendous war-tune; and the echoing of the vaulted roof, and clang of the Celtic tongue, produced such a Babel of noises, that Waverley dreaded his ears would never recover it. (Walter Scott, Waverley)
    • /ˈsɛltək/ (pn) The Celtics never recovered from a second-quarter slump and never moved the ball well enough to generate consistent offense. (Shira Springer, "Celtics are left in dust", Boston Globe April 18, 2004)
  • close
    • /kloʊz/ (v) Cliff still has to close his eyes to be able to eat calamari.
    • /kloʊs/ (a) It seemed that the story in the newspaper had hit a little too close to home.
  • concert
    • AmE /'kɑn.sɚt/ BrE /ˈkɒn.sət/ (n) We saw the kd lang in concert.
    • AmE /kən.ˈsɝt/ BrE /kən.ˈsɜt/ (v) We had to concert all our energy to stay awake.
  • confines
    • /ˈkɒn.fɑɪnz/ (n pl) Work within the confines of the contract.
    • /kən.ˈfɑɪnz/ (v) But the contract confines my creativity!
  • conflict
    • /ˈkɒn.flɪkt/ (n) The mother said to her belligerent son, "Violence is no way to resolve conflict!"
    • /kən.ˈflɪkt/ (v) The two news reports seem to conflict each other.
  • console
    • AmE /'kɑn.soʊl/ BrE /ˈkɒn.səʊl/ (n) The boy was addicted to playing on his video game console.
    • AmE /kən.ˈsoʊl/ BrE /kən.ˈsəʊl/ (v) Since they had raised him from birth, Jack and Jill had to console each other after their dog died.
  • contract
    • /ˈkɑntɹækt/ (n) The contract was supposed to expire seven years after it was signed.
    • /kənˈtɹækt/ (v) Derek firmly stated that he would rather contract pneumonia and die than stand outside wearing that ridiculous pink and green poncho.
  • coop
    • /kup/ (n)
    • AmE /koʊ.ɑp/ BrE /kəʊ.ɒp/ (n) also co-op
  • crooked
    • /kɹʊkt/ (v) I crooked my arm to show the sleeve.
    • /ˌkɹʊkəd/ (a) Unfortunately, that just made the sleeve looked crooked.
  • des
    • /də/ (n) I moved from Seattle about 10 miles south to Des Moines.
    • /deɪ/ (n) I needed a big dog, so I bought a Bouvier des Flandres.
    • /dɛz/ (n) We spent the day in Vegas, and at night drove out to the des.
    • /dɛz/ Hated Chicago, so we moved to Des Plaines.
  • desert
    • /də.ˈzɝt/ (v) To desert the military is a crime.
    • /ˈdɛ.zɚt/ (n) The Gobi is a large desert in Asia.
  • discard
    • AmE /ˈdɪs.kɑɹd/ BrE /ˈdɪs.kɑːd/ Toss it in the discard pile.
    • AmE /dɪs.ˈkɑɹd/ /BrE /dɪs.ˈkɑːd/ But I don't want to discard it!
  • do
    • /du/, /də/ (v) What do you think you are doing?
    • /doʊ/ (n) To warm-up, the singer sang the scale from do.
  • dos
    • /duz/
    • /doʊs/
  • does
    • /dʌz/ (v) When someone does something right it does not make headlines, but when someone does something wrong it does.
    • /doʊz/ (n) Even during hunting season, the hunters are required by law only to shoot the bucks and not the does.
  • dogged
    • /dɔgd/ (v) At night proctors patrolled the street and dogged your steps if you tried to go into any haunt where the presence of vice was suspected. (Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh)
    • /ˈdɔgəd/ (a) Still, the dogged obstinacy of his race held him to the pace he had set, and would hold him till he dropped in his tracks. (Jack London, The Son of the Wolf)
  • dove
    • /dʌv/ (n) The dove is a kind of bird.
    • /doʊv/ (v) He dove into the pool. (BrE uses "dived" instead)
  • ellipses
    • /ə'lɪpsəz/ (n) The orbits of planets are ellipses. (plural of ellipse)
    • /ə'lɪpsi:z/ (n) I use ellipses to denote omissions in quotations. (plural of ellipsis)
  • en
    • /ɑn/ (prep) Steve suffered a massive heart attack en route to the Cypress Hill concert.
    • /ɛn/ (attributive) When the editor transferred the article on the Internet from blog to newspaper, he had to change several improperly used en dashes to em dashes and fix up the semicolons here and there.
  • grace
    • /gɹeɪs/ (n) Janice knew exactly what was coming up when Clay started in on another one of his long expositions on how we had all fallen from grace and needed Jesus' love to save us.
    • /gɹɑs/ (n) When Sen. Hutton had not only stumped his challenger in the debate but displayed a photograph revealing him as a wife-swapping hypocrite, that was the coup de grace.
  • house
    • /haʊs/ (n) "Jane, Jane, the house is on fire!" (Edward P. Roe, He Fell In Love With His Wife)
    • /haʊz/ (v) If a slave could escape to the swamps or the forest and elude the bloodhounds on his track, he knew that at certain points he would find those who were prepared to house him, and, passing him on secretly from station to station, ensure his arrival at a terminus where he would be safe for life. (Walter Hawkins, Old John Brown)
  • incense
    • /ˈɪn.sɛns/ (n) Dad, I was at the farmer's market, and bought this incense.
    • /ɪn.ˈsɛns/ (v) Big mistake. If you burn it here, you'll incense your mother.
  • lead
    • /lɛd/ (n) Water travelled through ancient Rome through lead pipes.
    • /lid/ (v) The mother duck can lead her ducklings around.
  • lima
    • /ˈlaɪmə/ (attributive) The kids on You Can't Do That on Television always dreaded being served liver and lima beans.
    • /ˈlimə/ (pn) Sancho rode his donkey through the mountains of Lima.
  • live
    • /lɪv/ (v) I don't need you to determine whether I live or die.
    • /laɪv/ (a) I went to see Alanis Morissette live in concert.
  • minute
    • /ˈmɪnət/ (n) The guests are going to start flooding in any minute now.
    • /maɪˈnut/ (a) Though I thought the sandals all looked the same color, Tiffany had to explain the minute differences between umber, burnt umber and terracotta.
  • mobile
    • AmE /ˈmoʊˌbil/ BrE /ˈməʊbaɪl/ (n) The baby sat in awe at the bright colors on the mobile.
    • /ˈmoʊbəl/ BrE /ˈməʊbaɪl/ (a) Although most animals are mobile, the sponge is sessile.
    • /ˈmoʊˌbil/ (pn) They packed up their trailer and moved from Auburn to Mobile.
  • moped
    • /moʊpt/ (v) Depressed, he moped around the house for days.
    • /ˈmoʊˌpɛd/ (n) She drove her new moped to school.
  • number
    • /ˈnʌm.bɚ/ (n) What is your phone number?
    • /ˈnʌ.mɚ/ (a) My cold toes were number than hers. (comparative of numb)
  • oblige
    • /əˈblaɪdʒ/
    • /oʊˈbliʒ/
  • overall
    • /oʊvɚˈɔl/ (a) Overall, we didn't do too badly.
    • /ˈoʊvɚɔl/ (a) Are you kidding? We were an overall failure!
  • polish
    • AmE /ˈpɑ.ləʃ/ BrE /ˈpɒ.lɪʃ/ (v) You need to polish those boots.
    • AmE /ˈpoʊ.ləʃ/ BrE /ˈpəʊ.lɪʃ/ (a) I'm of Polish ancestry.
  • present
    • /ˈprɛ.zənt/ (a) All need to be present for a unanimous vote.
    • /ˈprɛ.zənt/ (n) I need to buy my sister a present for her birthday.
    • /ˈprɛ.zənt/ (n) "He who neglects the present moment throws away all he has." (Friedrich Schiller)
    • /prə.ˈzɛnt/ (v) He will present his ideas to the Board of Directors tomorrow.
  • primer
    • /ˈpɹaɪmɚ/ (n) Apply a coat of primer before you paint.
    • /'pɹɪmɚ/ (n) Open your primer to page 12, and we'll begin reading.
  • produce
    • AmE /ˈproʊˌdus/ BrE /ˈprɒ.djuːs/ (n) The Americans only consume a small portion of this produce, and they are willing to sell us the rest. (Alexis de Tocqueville, American Institutions And Their Influence)
    • AmE /prəˈdus/ BrE /prəˈdjuːs/ (v) The judicial power is by its nature devoid of action; it must be put in motion in order to produce a result. (Alexis de Tocqueville, American Institutions And Their Influence)
  • project
    • AmE /ˈpɻɑʤεkt/ BrE /ˈprɒdʒɪkt/ (n) The project deadline is next week.
    • AmE /pɻəˈʤεkt/ (v) The diva can project her voice to the back of the theater.
  • putting
    • /ˈpʌtɪŋ/ (v) The final step in each hole in golf is putting the ball across the green into the cup.
    • /ˈpʊtɪŋ/ (v) She is putting on a show for you.
  • ragged
    • /ɹæɡd/ (v) She ragged on me about my ragged jeans.
    • /ˈɹæɡəd/ (a) But my ragged jeans are my trademark, I responded.
  • read
    • /ɹid/ The new Robin Cook book is an awful read.
    • /ɹɛd/ Once I had read the note I tore it into little bits and swallowed them.
  • real
    • /ɹil/ (a) My '67 El Camino is the real deal.
    • /ɹeɑl/ (n) When I drive it down El Camino Real, all the girls stop and stare.
  • record
    • AmE /ˈrɛ.kɚd/ BrE /ˈrɛ.kɔːd/ (n) She played a vinyl record on her old turntable.
    • /rə.ˈkɔɹd/ BrE /rɪˈkɔːd/ (v) Did he record the concert with his camcorder?
  • refuse
    • /rə.ˈfjuz/ (v) If you refuse the background check, we cannot hire you.
    • /ˈrɛ.fjus/ (n) Please clean up all of your refuse.
  • resume
    • /ɹəˈzum/ Resume breathing or you will surely faint!
    • /ˈɹɛzəˌmeɪ/ My resume makes ample use of the font Impact. (however this may not be a true homograph since the latter form is correctly spelled "résumé")
  • riches
    • /ˈɹɪtʃəz/ (n) The stranger was much pleased with the great number of shops full of merchandize, lighted up to the best advantage. He was astonished at the display of riches in Lombard-Street and Cheapside. (Tobias Smollett, Travels through France and Italy)
    • /ɹiʃ/ (n) (part of nouveau riches) Whatever is left of politics in this world of nouveau riches and nouveau Russes, is now spelled with a very small "p." (Gregory Freidin, "Moscow Nouveau: From the Barricades to Business", Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1994)
  • root
    • /ɹuːt/ (also, /ɹʊt/) (n) The tree's root was rotted.
    • /ɹuːt/ (v) A pig can be trained to root for mushrooms.
  • row
    • /ɹɑʊ/ The vicar and parson had an awful row at the tavern.
    • AmE /ɹoʊ/ BrE /ɹəʊ/ This is for the niggaz that was down from day one: welcome to death row. (Dr. Dre, The Chronic)
  • separate
    • /ˈsɛpɹət/ (a) This should be divided into packets of ten cartridges each, which should be rolled up in flannel and hermetically sealed in separate tin canisters. (Samuel W. Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia)
    • /ˈsɛpəˌɹeɪt/ (v) To stalk these wary antelopes I was obliged to separate from my party, who continued on their direct route. (Samuel W. Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia)
  • sewer
    • /ˈsuwɚ/ (n) Broken sewer pipes can be a smelly mess.
    • /ˈsoʊwɚ/ (n) "We might choose the best sewers and let them put in at least a few stitches, so that they can feel they have a share in it." (Kate Douglas Wiggin, The Flag-Raising)
  • sow
    • /sɑʊ/ (n) The sow suckled her newborn piglets.
    • /soʊ/ (v) The farmer will sow oats in the back forty.
  • tear
    • /teɹ/ (v) & (n) and haven't they been ready to tear the clothes off my back too? (Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People)
    • /tiɹ/ (n) Second, the greatest and last of the Hohenstaufen, or refrain from dropping a tear over his sad failure. (O. A. Brownson, The American Republic)
  • terrible
    • /ˈteɹəbəl/ This food is terrible.
    • /təˈɹiblə/ You mean, "C'est terrible". If you must criticise, do it in French.
  • tier
    • /tiɹ/ (n) Our seats are in the third tier of the stadium.
    • /ˈtɑɪ.ɚ/ (n) Will the tier be around to make these knots?
  • use
    • /juz/ (v) Use a napkin!
    • /jus/ (n) What's the use? It's all down my shirt.
  • vie
    • /vaɪ/
    • /vi/
  • voyage
    • /ˈvɔɪədʒ/
    • /vɔɪˈjɑʒ/
  • whoop
    • /wʊp/ Pa says he's gonna whoop you good if you don't learn some manners!
    • /wup/ When they scored a goal, he began to whoop and holler.
  • wind
    • /waɪnd/ How did we wind up in Kansas?
    • /wɪnd/ The wind blew from the northeast.
  • won
    • /wʌn/ (v, pt) After we won the match, we went out for won tons.
    • /wɑn/ (a) Boiled won tons are called swei jyau; fried, they're called jyau dz.
  • wound
    • /waʊnd/ The rope was wound around his wrists.
    • /wund/ She died from a fatal chest wound.

Some words are nouns or adjectives when the accent is on the first syllable and verbs when it is on the second.

When the prefix "re-" is prepended to a monosyllabic word, and the word gains currency both as a noun and as a verb, it will probably fit into this pattern, although, as the list below makes clear, most words fitting this pattern do not match that description.

Other Homographs

Many of these have first syllables that evolved from Latin prepositions, although again that does not account for all of them. Also, some of these words only exhibit the stress alternation in certain varieties of English.

See also

Wiktionary

External links

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