Thursday, February 25, 2010



Homonyms are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. Homonyms can also be words that sound the same when you pronounce them, but have different meanings. I know most of you know these words and their different meanings; it's just kind of fun to see them and realize how many homonyms there are in the English language. Here's a sampling (there are so many more!):

aid – to help or assist
aide – assistant

affect – change
effect – result or consequence

air – atmosphere (the stuff we breathe)
err – to make a mistake

aisle – walkway
I’ll – I will
isle – island

allowed – permitted
aloud – out loud

ant – picnic pest
aunt – relative, as in your mom’s sister

ate – chewed up and swallowed
eight – number after seven

bank – embankment
bank – place where money is kept

bare – uncovered
bear – grizzly animal

berry – fruit from a bush
bury – to put underground

base – bottom part
bass – deep or low

be – to exist
bee – buzzing insect

beach – sandy shore
beech – type of tree

beat – to pound
beet – type of edible plant

berth – tie up
birth – to be born

bite – nibble
byte – 8 bits (computer data)

blew – past of blow
blue – color of ocean

boar – pig
bore – not interesting

borough – area or district
burrow – dig through
burro – small donkey

bough – branch
bow – bend or curtsy

buoy – floater
boy – young man

brake – stop pedal
break – smash

bread – bakery food
bred – form of breed

broach – mention
brooch – pin

brows – eyebrows
browse – look around

buy – purchase
by – beside
bye – short for goodbye

cell – compartment
sell – vend

cent – penny coin
sent – did send

cereal – breakfast food
serial – sequential

Chile – country in South America
chili – bean stew
chilly – frosty

chord – musical tone
cord – rope

cite – quote
site – location
sight – view

complement – enhance; go together
compliment – praise

council – committee
counsel – guidance

creak – squeak
creek – stream of water

crews – gangs
cruise – ride on a boat

dear – darling
deer – woodland animal

dew – morning mist
do – operate
due – payable

die – cease to exist
dye – color

doe – female dear
dough – uncooked bread

dual – double
duel – battle

ewe – female sheep
you – second-person personal pronoun

eye – sight organ
I – me

fair – equal
fare – price

fairy – elf-like creature with wings
ferry – boat

faze – impact
phase – stage

feat – achievement
feet – plural of foot

fir – type of tree
fur – animal hair

flea – small biting insect
flee – run

flew – did fly
flu – illness

flour – powdery, ground up grain
flower – blooming plant

for – on behalf of
fore – front
four – one more than three

forth – onward
fourth – number four

knew – did know
new – not old

gorilla – big ape
guerrilla – warrior

groan – moan
grown – form of grow

hair – head covering
hare – rabbit-like animal

hall – passageway
haul – tow

hay – animal food
hey – interjection to get attention

heal – mend
heel – back of foot

hi – hello
high – up far

hoarse – croaky
horse – riding animal

hole – opening
whole – entire

holey – full of holes
holy – divine
wholly – entirely

hour – sixty minutes
our – belonging to us

knead – massage
need – desire

knight – feudal horseman
night – evening

knot – tied rope
not – negative

know – have knowledge
no – opposite of yes

lead – metal
led – was the leader

lessen – make smaller
lesson – class

loan – lend
lone – solitary

made – did make
maid – servant

mail – postage
male – opposite of female

marry – to wed
merry – very happy

meat – animal protein
meet – encounter

none – not any
nun – woman who takes special vows

oar – boat paddle
or – otherwise
ore – mineral

oh – expression of surprise or awe
owe – be obligated

one – single
won – did win

overdo – do too much
overdue – past due date

pail – bucket
pale – not bright

pain – hurt
pane – window glass

peace – calm
piece – segment

peak – highest point
peek – glance

plain – ordinary
plane – flight machine or flat surface

pole – post
poll – survey

poor – not rich
pour – make flow

pray – implore God
prey – quarry

principal – most important
principle – belief

rain – water from sky
rein – bridle

rap – tap
wrap – drape around

real – factual
reel – roll

right – correct; not left
write – scribble

ring – encircle
wring – squeeze

role – function
roll – rotate

rose – flower
rows – lines

sail – move by wind power
sale – bargain price

scene – landscape
seen – viewed

sea – ocean segment
see – observe with eyes

seam – joining edge
seem – appear

sew – connect with thread
so – as a result
sow – plant

soar – ascend
sore – hurt place

sole – single
soul – essence

some – a few
sum – amount

steal – swipe
steel – alloy

tail – animal’s appendage
tale – story

their – belonging to them
there – at that place
they’re – they are

to – toward
too – also

toe – foot appendage
tow – pull along

vary – differ
very – much

wail – howl
whale – huge swimming mammal

waist – area below ribs
waste – squander

wait – kill time
weight – measurable load

war – battle
wore – did wear

warn – caution
worn – used

way – path
weigh – measure mass

we – us
wee – tiny

weak – not strong
week – period of seven days

weather – climate
whether – if

which – that
witch – sorcerer

your – belonging to you
you’re – you are



  1. At first I thought you just put that for sale sign in to see if we read the whole post! Too funny! I knew all the words, but seeing them next to each other made me question them.


  2. Michele: LOL! Isn't that a riot? It never fails to amaze me some of the things that make it to print!

  3. Hadn't really thought about how many there are. This list really makes you stop and think. Love the photo. :)

  4. Homonyms sounds like a southern dish - LOL!

    A couple of those I always have to stop and think about before I write the word.

  5. Love the loooooooooong list. And the For Sale sign, while a rather coarse joke, was extremely funny, of course. (wink)

    The Old Silly

  6. What a great list! Makes me so greatful that English is my first language!!

  7. Great list. When I was in high school, I had such a problem with Chile vs chili. - And I had a friend from Chile!

  8. Alex: Thanks for the compliment!

    Mason: It was a challenge putting the list together because there are so many it was so hard for a word lover like me to stop! LOL!

    Diane and Karen: Too funny! I always think of hominy myself!

    Marvin: I know how you long for long lists – no wait. You love long posts, don't you? LOL!

    CC: Glad you like the list! I too am GRATEFUL that English is my native language! ♥ hehehe

  9. It all comes down to one thing, doesn't it? Write right.

  10. Elspeth: Absolutely! Errors in spelling go beyond just misspelling! It could lend an entirely different meaning to what you're writing – and spell check isn't going to catch that!

  11. Wow! That was a lot of homonyms. My dyslexic husband has real trouble with these; because he doesn't know some are spelled different, he doesn't understand how we readers ever tell them apart.

  12. I think your blog is great! Very helpful :o)

  13. Niki: Thank you! What a kind thing to say, and I really appreciate it!

  14. And what about poor/pour/paw and to/too/two - the list goes on and on. (Those additional words came to mind because I based a lesson on homophones just today. They're quite fun to teach - in small doses.)

  15. What fun, especially the photo. I see these errors way too often in our local paper and on billboards. Or is that billboreds?

  16. Leigh: What a coincidence! I agree, homonyms are best in small doses. I'm afraid I got a little carried away being a lover of words. They were all so good! LOL!

    Kathy: My local newspaper too; just about everywhere, actually.. I cringe when I see such obvious mistakes. Love your example!

  17. Great post! I didn't realize homonyms could be words that sounded alike. Thanks for sharing!


    from the desk of a writer


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