A homonym is a word that is pronounced the same as another word with a different meaning. Such words are called homonyms. The word homonym is derived from the Greek ‘homonymos’. ‘ Homo’ means same and ‘onyma’ means name. A simple example of a homonym is the word bat, which can mean a sports object used to hit the ball and a flying mammal.
1. Watch (to view/observe): The Mishras watched the movie with interest.
Watch (a gadget that shows time): Ishika bought a wristwatch for her brother.
2. Fair (right, just): The hawker accepted the deal as he found it to be fair.
Fair (light coloured): The missing girl was tall, slim and fair.
3. Fare (price): There is a steep hike in the bus fare.
Fare (well being): Our juniors have organized a farewell party for us.
4. Right (correct): Many students were unable to give the right answers.
Right (direction): The car turned right abruptly without switching the indicator on.
Right (legal, social or ethical principles of freedom): All the citizens must be aware of the fundamental rights.
5. Old (ancient): Tarun was happy to see the old school building where he had studied.
Old (aged): Arnav decided to stay with his old parents and returned to his hometown.
There are two types of homonyms, which are homographs and homophones. Homographs are the words with the same spelling but different pronunciation whereas homophones are the words with a different spelling but same pronunciations. Most of the people make mistakes in using homophones.
Words often confused
Some words are often confused as they are similar-sounding words, but they are different in spelling and meaning. Such words are referred to as homophones.
‘Homo’ means the same; ‘phone’ means sound.
Soul (spirit): Goutham Buddha prayed for the liberation of soul from the cycle of life and death.
Sole (single/only): The sole purpose of Vidith’s visit to Mumbai is to reunite with family.
Sole (the lower part of one’s foot/shoe): Varun hurt his sole while jumping over the wall.
Idle (inactive): It is good to be idle once in a while.
Idol (image): Idol worship of cine artists was very common in India.
Break (separate into pieces): Sanvi instructed the kids not to break the new toys.
Break (violate): Yatish was fined for breaking the rules in the contest. Brake (part of a vehicle that checks its movement): Many accidents occur because of brake failure.
Stationery (writing material etc.): There is a well-stocked stationery store next to our college.
Stationary (immobile): People believed in the past that the earth was stationary.
Piece (a bit): The driver was attacked with a piece of broken glass.
Peace (state of tranquillity): It is high time that peace is restored all over the world.
Principal (head): The principal of the institution presided over the function.
Principal (important): The principal objective of the survey is to address the issue of malnutrition.
Principle (a basic ideal or rule): APJ Abdul Kalam was a man of principles.
DOWNLOAD LIST OF HOMOPHONES
Fill in the blanks choosing from the words given in the brackets:
(prey, pray, rode, road, former, farmer, rear, rare, sail, sale)
1. The young men _________fast on the __________.
2. The __________ was felicitated by the ___________ Chief Minister
3. Some people fall __________ to the conmen easily.
4. The _________ of essential goods remained unaffected during the bandh.
5. The truck hit the _______ end of the bike resulting in the accident.
6. It was a _________ picture of four generations of the family.
7. Parents __________ for the success of their children.
8. The shattered _________ of the ship changed it’s direction.
Words of the same spelling but different meaning and pronunciation are called homographs.
1. Wind (rhymes with tamarind) (moving air): Strong wind blew along the coastline.
Wind (rhymes with kind) (to rotate or to turn): Siri forgot to wind the wire round the box.
2. Tear (rhymes with wear) (to rip): The parents instructed the children not to tear the newspaper.
Tear (rhymes with year) (water-like secretion in eyes): The Bishop advised the convict not to hold back his tears.
3. Lead (rhymes with deed) (to guide): Sindhu wants to lead her team in the right direction.
Lead (rhymes with head) (a metal): Lead is poisonous.
4. Minute (60 seconds): The athlete ran at the speed of 4kms/minute.
Minute (negligible/very small): The teacher examined the minute details of the blueprint.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
• Homophones have a similar sound but different spellings and meanings
• Homonyms are similar in spelling and sound but differ in meanings
• Homographs have same spelling, but different meanings and sounds