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The -graph in homograph means “written.” Homographs are words that are written the same—meaning they always have the same spelling—but have different meanings.
Homographs can be pronounced the same or not. For example, bass (the fish, rhymes with class) and bass (the instrument, rhymes with ace) are homographs. But so are the different senses of bark and bear.
Homographs that are pronounced different
Here are several examples of homographs whose pronunciation is different.
- minute (the noun meaning “60 seconds”; the adjective meaning “very small”)
- bass (the fish; the instrument)
- Polish (from Poland) and Polish (to make something shiny)
- bow (the noun referring to a ribbon tied in a decorative way; the verb meaning to bend reverently)
- close (the adjective meaning “nearby”; the verb meaning “to shut”)
- lead (the metal; the verb meaning “to act as a leader”)
Homographs that are pronounced the same
Here are some of the many, many homographs that sound the same, along with some of their common meanings (in many cases, there are multiple other meanings).
- bear (the animal; the verb meaning “to carry”)
- ring (a circle; a type of jewelry; what a phone does)
- fan (the appliance that makes wind; an admirer/appreciator)
- band (music group; a ring or strap)
- bat (the animal; a baseball bat)
- kind (the adjective meaning “nice”; the noun meaning “type”)
- part (a component of something; a line in one’s hair; the verb meaning “to separate”)
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