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From homo-, from Ancient Greek ὁμός ‎(homós, same) + -graph, from Ancient Greek γράφος ‎(gráphos, that which is written).



homograph ‎(plural homographs)

  1. A word that is spelled the same as another word, usually having a different etymology, such as "bear", the animal, and "bear", to support, to tolerate, etc.

Usage notes[edit]

Homographs are a kind of homonym in the loose sense of that term, i.e. a word that is either a homophone (same sound) or a homograph (same spelling). (The strict sense of homonym is a word that both sounds and is spelled the same as another word.) Specifically, homographs must have the same spelling, though they usually have different meanings and may be pronounced differently.

  • The verb bear ‎(to carry) and the noun bear ‎(large omnivorous mammal) are homographs with the same pronunciation and different etymological origins.
  • The verb alternate ‎(to go back and forth) and the adjective alternate ‎(following by turns) are homographs with different pronunciations but close etymological origins. Such homographs are also heteronyms.
  • The verb meet ‎(to encounter) and the noun meat ‎(food) are not homographs since they have different spellings.

Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]

An Euler diagram showing the relationship between these -nyms.
Different Meanings
nym Sound Spelling Category
homonym same same
heteronym different same (cat)
homograph not specified same
homophone same different (cat)
heterophone different different
synonym different different