A homonym is a word that is said or spelled the same way as another word but has a different meaning.
This big linguistic category consists of homophones and homographs.
Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings and may have different pronunciations.
Examples of common homographs include:

  • wind - to turn/moving air
  • contract - an agreement/to get, acquire or incur
  • desert - a hot, arid region/to leave
  • minute - 60 seconds/extremely small/protocol

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

Examples of common English homophones include:


Air - the mixture of gases around the Earth that we breathe
Heir - someone who will get another person’s money and things when that person dies

All - every person or thing in a group
Awl - a pointed tool for making small holes in wood or leather

Allowed - to say that someone can do something
Aloud - audibly; not silently or in a whisper

Ant - a small insect, often with a sting, that usually lives in a complex social colony with one or more breeding queens.
Aunt - the sister of someone’s mother or father, or the wife of someone’s uncle

Ball - a round object that you throw, kick, or hit in a game, or something with this shape
Bawl - to shout in a very loud voice

Base - the bottom part of something
Bass - producing low musical notes

Be – a verb
Bee - a yellow and black insect that makes honey (= sweet, sticky food)

Bear - to accept someone or something bad
Bare - not covered by clothes

Bite - to cut something using your teeth
Byte - a unit for measuring the amount of information a computer can store

Blue - being the same colour as the sky when there are no clouds
Blew – blow (past tense)

Bored - tired and unhappy because something is not interesting or because you are doing nothing
Board - a long, thin, flat piece of wood or other hard material, used for floors or other building purposes

Bow - to bend your head or body forward in order to show respect or to thank an audience
Bough - a large branch of a tree

Boy - a male child or young man
Buoy - a floating object used in water to mark dangerous areas for boats

Bread - a basic food made by mixing and baking flour and water
Bred – breed (past tense)

Break - to separate into two or more pieces, or to make something separate into two or more pieces
Brake - the part of a vehicle that makes it stop or go more slowly

Bury - to put a dead body into the ground
Berry - a small, round fruit on some plants and trees

But - used to introduce something new, especially something that is different from what you have just said
Butt - the part of a finished cigarette that has not been smoked

Buy - to get something by giving money for it
By - used to show the person or thing that does something
Bye - goodbye

Cash - money in the form of coins or notes (= paper money)
Cache - a hidden store of things, or the place where they are kept

Ceiling - the top surface of a room
Sealing - to close an entrance or container so that air or liquid cannot enter or leave it

Cent - a coin with a low value that is used in some countries
Sent - send (past tense)
Scent - a nice smell

Check - to look at something to make sure that it is right or safe
Cheque - a piece of paper printed by a bank that you use to pay for things

Cheap - not expensive, or costing less than usual
Cheep - the high, weak cry made by a young bird

Course - used to say ‘yes’ strongly, often to be polite
Coarse - rough or made of large pieces

Colonel - an officer of high rank in the army or air force
Kernel - the part of a nut that is inside the shell and can be eaten

Dam - a strong wall built across a river to stop the water and make a lake
Damn - used to express anger or disappointment

Days - a period of 24 hours (plr)
Daze - unable to think clearly

Dear - used at the beginning of a letter, before the name of the person you are writing to
Deer - a large, wild animal that has antlers (= long horns) if it is male

Dew - drops of water that form on surfaces outside during the night
Due - expected or planned

Die - to stop living
Dye - a substance that is used to change the colour of something

Eight - the number 8
Ate - eat (past tense)

Fare - the price that you pay to travel on a plane, train, bus, etc.
Fair - fair hair or skin, or a person who has it, is pale or light in colour

Feet - foot (plr)
Feat - something difficult needing a lot of skill, strength, courage, etc. to achieve it
Fete - an event that happens outside and includes competitions, games, and things for sale

Flower - the attractive coloured part of a plant where the seeds grow
Flour - a powder made from grain that is used to make bread and cakes

Foul - very dirty or bad
Fowl - a bird of a type that is used to produce meat or eggs

For - preposition
Fore - to public attention or into a noticeable position
Four - the number 4

Fur - the thick hair that covers the bodies of some animals like cats and rabbits
Fir - a tree with very thin, straight leaves that do not fall off in winter

Gate - a door in a fence or outside wall
Gait - a particular way of walking

Great - very good
Grate - to break food such as cheese into small, thin pieces by rubbing it against a grater

Grown - grow (past tense)
Groan - to make a long, low sound because you are sad or in pain

Hair - the thin threads that grow on the head and body of people and animals
Hare - an animal like a large rabbit that can run very fast and has long ears

Hall - a room that leads to other rooms
Haul - to pull something somewhere slowly and with difficulty

Hay - dried grass for animals to eat
Hey - used to get someone’s attention or to show that you are interested, excited, or angry

Heard - hear (past tense)
Herd - a large group of animals such as cows that live and eat together

Heart - the organ inside your chest that sends blood around your body
Hart - a male deer, especially a red deer

Here - in the place where you are
Hear - to be aware of a sound through your ears

High - having a long distance from the bottom to the top
Hi - hello

Him - pronoun
Hymn - a song sung by Christians in church

Hole - a hollow space in something, or an opening in something
Whole - complete, including every part

Hour - a period of time equal to 60 minutes
Our - belonging to us

Horse - a large animal with four legs that people ride or use to pull heavy things
Hoarse - If you are hoarse, your voice sounds rough, often because you are ill

I – a pronoun, used when the person speaking or writing is the subject of the verb
Eye - one of the two organs in your face that you use to see with

In - inside a container or place
Inn - a small hotel, especially one in the countryside

Isle - (used especially in place names) an island
Aisle - a passage between the lines of seats in a plane, church, theatre, etc

Jail - a place where criminals are kept as a punishment
Gaol – another UK spelling of jail

Key - a piece of metal that you use for locking a door or starting an engine
Quay - a structure built next to water where ships stop and things are taken on and off

Lone - having no companions; solitary or single
Loan - money that someone borrows

Made – make (past tense)
Maid - a woman who cleans or cooks in a hotel or in someone’s home

Male - belonging to or relating to the sex that cannot have babies
Mail - letters and parcels that you get or send

Meat - the soft parts of animals, used as food
Meet - to come to the same place as someone else
Mete - to give or order a punishment or make someone receive cruel or unfair treatment

Might - used to talk about what will possibly happen
Mite - a very small animal similar to a spider

Morning - the first half of the day, from the time when the sun rises until the middle of the day
Mourning - a feeling of sadness because someone has died

Need - If you need something, you must have it, and if you need to do something, you must do it
Knead - to press the mixture for making bread with your hands before you cook it

New - different from before
Knew - know (past tense)

Night - the time in every 24 hours when it is dark and people sleep
Knight - a man given a rank of honour by a British king or queen because of his special achievements, and who has the right to be called "Sir"

None - not any
Nun - a member of a group of religious women who live away from other people

Not - used to give something the opposite meaning
Knot - a place where pieces of string, rope, etc. have been tied together

One - the number 1
Won - win (past tense)

Or - used between possibilities, or before the last of many possibilities
Ore - rock or soil from which metal is made

Pail - a round, open container with a handle, used for carrying liquids
Pale - light blue, green, red, etc

Pain - a bad feeling in a part of your body when you are ill or hurt
Pane - a flat piece of glass in a window or door

Pair - two people who are doing something together
Pear - an oval-shaped, green or yellow fruit
Pare - to cut away the outer layer from something, especially a fruit or a vegetable

Patience - the ability to stay calm and not get upset, especially when something takes a long time
Patients - someone who is being treated by a doctor, nurse, etc

Peace - a situation in which there is quiet and calm
Piece - an amount of something, or a part of something

Pie - a type of food made with meat, vegetables, or fruit that is covered in pastry and baked
Pi - the number (approximately 3.14) used to calculate the size of circles

Pier - a long structure that is built from the land out over water and that sometimes has restaurants, etc. on it
Peer - to look carefully or with difficulty

Plain - simple and not complicated
Plane - a vehicle that flies and has an engine and wings

Pole - a long, thin stick made of wood or metal, used to hold something up
Poll - the process of asking people questions to discover what they think about a subject

Pour - to make a liquid flow from or into a container
Poor - having little money
Pore - a very small hole in the skin of people or other animals, or asimilar hole on the surface of plants or rocks

Pray - to speak to a god in order to show your feelings or to ask for something
Prey - an animal that is hunted and killed by another animal

Rack - a type of shelf that you can put things on or hang things from
Wrack - rack and ruin

Rain - water that falls from the sky in small drops
Rein - a long, thin piece of leather that helps you to control a horse
Reign - a period of time when a king or queen rules a country

Raise - to lift something to a higher position
Rays - narrow beams of light, heat, or energy
Raze - to completely destroy a city, building, etc.

Read - to look at words and understand what they mean
Reed - (the hollow stem of) any of various types of tall, stiff plants likegrasses growing together in groups near water

Real - existing and not imagined
Reel - an object shaped like a wheel that you can put film, thread, etc. around

Red - being the same colour as blood
Read- to look at words and understand what they mean (past tense)

Right - correct or true
Write - to make words, letters, or numbers on a surface using a pen or pencil
Rite - (a usually religious ceremony with) a set of fixed words and actions

Ring - a round piece of jewellery that you wear on your finger
Wring - to twist a cloth or piece of clothing with your hands to removewater from it

Role - a part in a play or movie
Roll - to move somewhere by turning in a circular direction, or to make something move this way

Root - the part of a plant that grows under the ground
Route - the roads you follow to get from one place to another place

Sail - to control or travel in a boat or a ship that has an engine or sails
Sale - a time when a shop sells things for less money than usual

See - to notice people and things with your eyes
Sea - a large area of salt water

Seem - to appear to be
Seam - a line of sewing where two pieces of cloth have been joined together

Sell - to give something to someone who gives you money for it
Cell - the smallest living part of an animal or a plant

Sheer - used to say that a feeling or quality is very strong
Shear - to cut the wool off a sheep

Size - how big or small something is
Sighs - to make a noise when you breathe out, often because you are sad

Sleigh - a type of sledge pulled by animals, especially horses or dogs
Slay - to kill in a violent way

So - used before an adjective or adverb to make that adjective or adverb stronger
Sew - to join things together with a needle and thread
Sow - to put seeds into the ground

Sole - only
Soul - the part of a person that is not his or her body, which some people believe continues to exist after they die

Some - used to mean an amount of something without saying exactly how much or how many
Sum - an amount of money

Stair - a set of steps that lead from one level of a building to another
Stare - to look at someone or something for a long time and not move your eyes

Stake - a share or a financial involvement in something such as a business
Steak - a thick, flat piece of meat or fish

Straight - not curved or bent
Strait - a narrow area of sea that connects two large areas of sea

Sun - the large, bright star that shines in the sky during the day and gives light and heat to the Earth
Son - someone’s male child

Sunny - bright because of light from the sun
Sonny - a form of address used by an older person to a boy or a young man

Sweet - with a taste like sugar
Suite - an en suite bathroom is directly connected to a bedroom

Tea - a hot drink that you make by pouring water onto dried leaves
Tee - a piece of cotton clothing for the top part of the body with short sleeves and no collar

Tail - the long, narrow part that sticks out from the back of an animal’s body
Tale - a story about exciting events, sometimes one that is not true

Team- a group of people who play a sport or game together
Teem - to rain heavily

Tears - to pull paper, cloth, etc. into pieces, or to make a hole in it by accident
Tiers - one of several layers or levels (plr)

Time - a particular point in the day or night
Thyme - a herb used in cooking

Toe - one of the five separate parts at the end of your foot
Tow - to pull a car, boat, etc.

Two - the number 2
Too - used before adjectives and adverbs to mean ‘more than is allowed, necessary, possible, etc.
To - used with a verb to make the infinitive

You - used to mean the person or people you are talking to
Ewe - a female sheep, especially an adult one
Yew - an evergreen tree (= one that never loses its leaves) with flat leaves like needles and small, red cones, or the wood from this tree

Vain - too interested in your own appearance and thinking you are very attractive
Vane - a flat, narrow part of a fan, propeller , etc. which turns because of the pressure of air or liquid against it
Vein - one of the tubes in your body that carries blood to your heart

Very - used to make an adjective or adverb stronger
Vary - if things of the same type vary, they are different from each other

Waist - the part around the middle of your body where you wear a belt
Waste - a bad use of something useful, such as time or money

Wait - to stay in a place until someone or something arrives
Weight - how heavy someone or something is

Wave - to put your hand up and move it from side to side in order to attract someone’s attention or to say goodbye
Waive - to not demand something you have a right to, or not cause a rule to be obeyed

Way - how you do something
Weigh - to have a weight of

We - used as the subject of the verb when the person speaking or writing is referring to themselves and one or more other people
Wee - small; little

Weather - the temperature or conditions outside, for example if it is hot, cold, sunny, etc
Whether - used to talk about a choice between two or more possibilities

Week - a period of seven days
Weak - not physically strong

Whale - a very large animal that looks like a fish and lives in the sea
Wail - to cry loudly because you are very sad

Where - used to ask about the place or position of someone or something
Wear - to have a piece of clothing, jewellery, etc. on your body

Which - used to ask or talk about a choice between two or more things
Witch - in stories, a woman who has magical powers

Wood - the hard material that trees are made of
Would - used to say what might happen if something else happens

Write - to make words, letters, or numbers on a surface using a pen or pencil
Rite - a ceremony or event that leads to a new phase of life
Right - correct or true

Wrote – write (past tense)
Rote - learning something in order to be able to repeat it from memory, rather than in order to understand it

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