Homophones

January 18, 2010 at 8:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Homophones

Homophones are words that have exactly the same sound (pronunciation) but different meanings and (usually) spelling.

For example, the following two words have the same sound, but different meanings and spelling:

hour
our

In the next example, the two words have the same sound and spelling, but different meanings:

bear (the animal)
bear (to carry)

Usually homophones are in groups of two (our, hour), but very occasionally they can be in groups of three (to, too, two) or even four. If we take our “bear” example, we can add another word to the group”

bare (naked)
bear (the animal)
bear (to tolerate)

“Our bear cannot bear to be bare at any hour.”
The word homophone is made from two combining forms:
homo- (from the Greek word “homos”, meaning “same”
-phone (from the Greek word “phone”, meaning “voice” or “sound”
You will see many other English words using one or other of these combining forms.

The following list of 70 groups of homophones contains only the most common homophones, using relatively well-known words. These are headwords only. No inflections (such as third person singular “s” or noun plurals) are included.

air heir
aisle isle
ante- anti-
eye I
bare bear bear
be bee
brake break
buy by
cell sell
cent scent
cereal serial
coarse course
complement compliment
dam damn
dear deer
die dye
fair fare
fir fur
flour flower
for four
hair hare
heal heel
hear here
him hymn
hole whole
hour our
idle idol
in inn
knight night
knot not
know no
made maid
mail male
meat meet
morning mourning
none nun
oar or
one won
pair pear
peace piece
plain plane
poor pour
pray prey
principal principle
profit prophet
real reel
right write
root route
sail sale
sea see
seam seem
sight site
sew so sow
shore sure
sole soul
some sum
son sun
stair stare
stationary stationery
steal steel
suite sweet
tail tale
their there
to too two
toe tow
waist waste
wait weight
way weigh
weak week
wear where

NB: In a few cases, a third homophone, although possible, has not been included for simplicity. Different varieties and accents of English may produce variations in some of these pronunciations. The homophones listed here are based on British English.

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