from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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).
  • noun A word used to designate several different things.
  • noun A namesake.
  • noun Biology A taxonomic name identical to one previously applied to a different species or other taxon and therefore unacceptable in its new use.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun One word used to express distinct meanings, or applied as a name to different things: as, Heteropus is a homonym of eight different genera.
  • noun 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun semantics (strict sense) A word that both sounds and is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning.
  • noun loosely 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).
  • noun taxonomy A name for a taxon that is identical in spelling to another name that belongs to a different taxon.

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

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


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

[Latin homōnymum, from Greek homōnumon, from neuter of homōnumos, homonymous; see homonymous.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

homo- + -onym


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

    September 13, 2007

  • Alphabetical listing of English homonyms, here

    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

  • 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

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

    February 17, 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

  • 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

  • How many threadbare bears bear bare threads?

    April 17, 2009

  • *sigh*

    April 17, 2009