What is a homonym? (plus examples)

Homonyms are two words that are spelled the same and/or sound the same but have two different meanings.

An example is “bat.” A bat is the hunk of wood used to hit baseballs, and it is also the name of the arguably adorable winged creature of the night. These two words are spelled the same and sound the same.

bat

An example of a word that is spelled differently but sounds the same is “son” and “sun.” “Son” means a person’s child, while “sun” means that gigantic orange thing in the sky.

Here are more examples of homonyms that are both spelled the same and sound the same:

  • address: to speak to / location
  • arm: a part of the body / a part of a company
  • band: a musical group / a ring
  • bark: the outer part of a tree / the sound a dog makes
  • bright: very smart / filled with light
  • current:  up to date / the flow of water
  • die: to stop living / a cube labeled with numbers one through six
  • duck: a type of bird / to lower oneself
  • express: something done quickly / to show your thoughts
  • fly: a type of insect / to soar through the air
  • kind: a type of something / caring
  • lie: to recline / to not tell the truth
  • pound: a unit of weight / to beat
  • right: the correct answer / left’s opposite
  • rock: a type of music / a stone
  • rose: to have gotten up / a type of flower
  • spring: one of the seasons / coiled metal
  • tire: to become fatigued / a part of a wheel
  • well: the opposite of sick / a source for water in the ground

 

Here are more examples of homonyms that sound the same but are spelled differently:

  • berry / bury: a type of fruit / to cover in something
  • brake / break: to stop / to injure a bone or to rest
  • cereal / serial: a breakfast food / to do something repeatedly
  • eye / I: a body part / the opposite of you
  • groan / grown: an unhappy sound / to have become big
  • hear / here: to experience sound / opposite of there
  • hi / high: a greeting / up above
  • him / hymn: opposite of her / a type of song
  • feat / feet: an accomplishment / a body part and unit of measurement
  • flower / flour: a type of plant / an ingredient in baking
  • flew / flu: to have traveled through the air / a type of sickness
  • knight / night: a medieval soldier / the opposite of day
  • know / no: to understand / the opposite of yes
  • meet / meat: to be introduced / animal flesh
  • one / won: the number before two / the opposite of lost
  • pail / pale: a type of container / the opposite of dark
  • pair / pear: a couple / a type of fruit
  • rap / wrap: a type of music / to cover something
  • see / sea: to look at something / a big body of water
  • weak / week: not strong / seven days in a row

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Stationary vs. Stationery

 

Stationary vs. stationeryIt’s tricky to keep the difference between stationary and stationery straight. They’re homophones, which means they’re two words that sound the same but have different meanings (think flour and flower or principle and principal).

Stationary is an adjective describing something that isn’t moving:

  • All the cars were stationary at the red light.
  • I didn’t want to wake up this morning, so I just lay stationary in my bed.

Stationery is a noun that refers to special paper you use for writing:

  • She had stationery with matching blue envelopes and paper.
  • Her monogram was emblazoned at the top of her stationery.

How to remember the difference: 

Paper ends in ER. So you can remember: Stationery is made of paper

Here’s a fun fact: stationary is etymologically related to stationery. They both originally come from the latin word stationarius, which can mean either a fixed military position or, starting in the 14th century, a tradesman who sells from a post or shop.

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of book editing, author coaching, and social media packages.

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Feet vs. feat

feet: plural of foot
feat: a deed notable especially for courage; an act or product of skill, endurance, or ingenuity
—Merriam-Webster

Feet and feat are homophones, which means they sound the same but have different meanings. Feet can mean the unit of measurement or the two body parts dangling from the bottom of your legs. Feat is an act you do that deserves awe.

Examples of feet
Stan bought three feet of licorice.
Stan’s feet are huge; he wears a size fifteen shoe.

Examples of feat
Stan pulled quite a feat when he finished his twelve-page paper in three hours.
Stan’s epic battle against the zombies was a courageous feat.

Quiz
Fill in either feet or feat in the blanks below. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Tina’s _______ can’t fit in my shoes because they’re too small.
2. Tina’s _______ of getting eight guys’ phone numbers in one night will go down in history.
3. Tina’s tape measurer goes to four _______.
4. “Wow! What a _______!” Tina said after she witnessed a stranger fend off a mugger.

Answers:

1. feet 2. feat 3. feet 4. feat