Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One of two or more words that have identical spellings but different meanings and pronunciations, such as row (a series of objects arranged in a line), pronounced (rō), and row (a fight), pronounced (rou).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A word having the same spelling as another, but a different pronunciation and meaning.
  • n. A fictitious character created by an author for the purpose of writing in a different style.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is heteronymous; a thing having a different name or designation from some other thing; -- opposed to homonym.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A word having a different sound and meaning from another, but the same spelling, as lead, conduct, and lead, a metal: distinguished from homonym in a narrow sense—that is, a word having the same sound as another, but not the same spelling.
  • n. A different name of the same thing; a name in one language precisely translating a name in another language; a linguistic synonym, having literally the same meaning as some other word of another language.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. two words are heteronyms if they are spelled the same way but differ in pronunciation

Etymologies

Back-formation from heteronymous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined around 1900, either from hetero- (“different”) + -onym (“name”) or from Ancient Greek ἑτερώνυμος (heterōnumos), or perhaps both. (Wiktionary)

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