Definitions

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

  • n. One of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning, such as bank (embankment) and bank (place where money is kept).
  • n. A word used to designate several different things.
  • n. A namesake.
  • n. Biology A taxonomic name identical to one previously applied to a different species or genus and therefore unacceptable in its new use.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. (strict sense) A word that both sounds and is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning.
  • n. A word that sounds or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning, technically called a homophone (same sound) or a homograph (same spelling).
  • n. A name for a taxon that is identical in spelling to another name that belongs to a different taxon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A word having the same sound as another, but differing from it in meaning; as the noun bear and the verb bear.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One word used to express distinct meanings, or applied as a name to different things: as, Heteropus is a homonym of eight different genera.
  • n. In philology, a word which agrees with another in sound, and perhaps in spelling, but is not the same in meaning; a homophone: as, meet, meat, and mete, or the verb bear and the noun bear.
  • n. Specifically, in systematic biology, a name given to a group (usually a genus or species) at a later date than that at which the same name had been given to another group.

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

  • n. two words are homonyms if they are pronounced or spelled the same way but have different meanings

Etymologies

Latin homōnymum, from Greek homōnumon, from neuter of homōnumos, homonymous; see homonymous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
homo- + -onym (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • *sigh*

    April 17, 2009

  • How many threadbare bears bear bare threads?

    April 17, 2009

  • My Greek teacher used this example sentence, to illustrate participles, infinitives, and gerunds (of which the latter there are none in Greek): "The dying king was dying to die for a living."

    August 15, 2008

  • My favourite epitaph:

    A Dyer by name and a dyer by trade,
    Of a dire disease he a die-er was made.
    But mark you well, what seems very quaint,
    A die-er was he of a liver complaint.

    May 21, 2008

  • One of my favorite novels, oroboros. :-)

    February 17, 2008

  • I was wondering about how homonyms fitted in with homophones. This is what Ninjawords says:

    Homonym: "a word that sounds or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. (Homonyms are divided into the two overlapping subcategories homographs and homophones. Examples: die and dye (homophones but not homographs); the fish fluke and fluke, part of the tail of a whale (homophones and homographs); the metal lead and the verb form lead (homographs but not homophones.)"

    February 16, 2008

  • In case yer interested: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole is chock-a-block with big-grin producing "non-standard-type" homonyms in the ubiquitous dialogs between the characters in the book.

    February 16, 2008

  • Alphabetical listing of English homonyms, here

    February 16, 2008

  • one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning

    September 13, 2007