Dave's Cars, Computers, Great Links

A Small Contribution to the World Wide Wasteoftime


H O M O G R A P H S


While many folks seem to know what homonyms are, too few are cognizant of homoGRAPHs!

Homonyms are different words that sound alike. Like pear and pair. And pare. These words are spelled differently but sound the same. The English language is riddled with such aural ambiguities.

But to someone for whom English is not his/her first language, it's much worse than that, as there are plenty of words that are spelled, and thus look, the same but sound different! These visually ambiguous words are homographs. (but see update at bottom)

Consider the word tear. Does it rhyme with pear/pair/pare? Or with hear/here? Tear is not only a homograph, but half of the homograph also happens to be a homonym with tier. But I digress...

Or do I? Tier is also a homograph! It can rhyme with with hear/here. But it can also rhyme with "dyer". (Just as someone who dyes is a dyer, someone who ties is a tier!) Which sounds dangerously close to "tire". (But I digress!)

So, are you still with me on this? And can you imagine what fun the world will be once it's run by computers that respond to commands spoken (read[!] aloud) in English?

The following list was assembled purely for fun. There are, however, folks who take this stuff much more seriously than I. So if you're looking for some kind of seriously comprehensive list, you might want to check out this one.


ENGLISH HOMOGRAPHS:

BASS
BOW(S)
BUFFET
COAX
CLOSE
COMPOUND(S)
CONVERSE
DESERT
DIVERS
DOES
DOVE
ENTRANCE(S)
EXCISE
HARE
INTIMATE
INVALID
LAME
LEAD
LUGER(S)
MANES
MARE(S)
MINUTE
OBJECT(S)
PATENT
POLISH
PRESENT
PRIMER(S)
PROJECT(S)
PUSSY
PUTTING
RAVEN
RE
REFUSE
RESIGN(S)
RESUME(S)
ROW(S)
SEWER(S)
SHOWER(S)
SLAVER
SOW(S)
SYNDICATE(S)
TAXIS
TEAR(S)
TIER(S)
TOWER(S)
VIOLA(S)
WIND(S)
WOUND


SEMI-HOMOGRAPHS:

ABSENT
ABSTRACT
ABUSE(S)
ADDRESS(ES)
ADVOCATE(S)
AGGREGATE
APPROPRIATE
APPROXIMATE
ARTICULATE
ASSOCIATE(S)
ATTRIBUTE(S)
COMBAT
COMBINE(S)
COMPACT(S)
COMPLEX
CONDUCT
CONFINES
CONFLICT(S)
CONSORT
CONSTRUCT(S)
CONTENT
CONTEST(S)
CONTRACT(S)
CONSUMMATE
CONVERT(S)
CONVICT(S)
COORDINATE(S)
DECREASE(S)
DEFECT(S)
DEGENERATE(S)
DELEGATE(S)
DELIBERATE
DISCHARGE
DOGGED
EJACULATE
ELABORATE
ESCORT(S)
EXCUSE(S)
ESTIMATE(S)
EXTRACT(S)
GRADUATE(S)
HOUSE(S)
IMPLANT(S)
IMPORT(S)
INCLINE(S)
LAMINATE(S)
LEARNED
LEGITIMATE
LIVE(S)
[-]LIVED
MEDIATE(S)
MOBILE (3)
MODERATE(S)
MOUTH
OFFENSE(S)
PERFECT
PERMIT(S)
PREDICATE(S)
PRODUCE
PROGRESS
PROTEST(S)
READ (mis-, proof-)
RECALL(S)
RECORD(S)
REDRESS
REJECT(S)
RETARD(S)
RETREAD(S)
ROUTE(S)
SEPARATE
SUBJECT(S)
SUSPECT(S)
TORMENT(S)
UPSET(S)
USE(S)

The somewhat-flexible 'rule' used in compiling this list was this: if you can't tell what word it is, how to pronounce it, by reading it alone, then it may be a homograph. Sometimes a word is pronounced differently depending upon whether it is a verb or a noun (eg: house). Differing pronunciations of the same word, however, do not qualify it for inclusion (eg: often). Also disqualified are words that have more than one meaning but are both spelled and pronounced the same (ie, club [someone actually submitted that one to me!]).

I have chosen to leave off some words that technically are homographs but whose differing pronunciations are so close that no one would notice -- much less look at you funny -- if you used the wrong one. I also have a bit of a problem with proper nouns (anyone can make up a name and pronounce it any way they designate) and foreign words (whose spelling in English is not defined, particularly when the other language uses a completely different character set!). I suppose if the word "nice" began a sentence, it could be confused with Nice(, France), but I think that's a bit of a stretch. This list is really about the English language's ambiguities, hence the absence of, for example, the Hebrew letter lamed.

Lee Gray of Mount Union College pointed out that true homographs must also have different origins. So those verb/non-verb semi-homographs have been moved to their own sub-list. Thanks to all who've contributed to both lists.


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http://members.tripod.com/~davespeed/homgrafs.htm updated 9/11/99