What Are Homographs?

Homograph (derives from Greek combination ‘homós’ meaning “same”, and ‘gráphō’ meaning “write”) is a group of words or a pair of two words that share the same spelling with one another, and may be pronounced the same way or differently but invariably mean different things.

Sometimes determining how to pronounce certain words can come with a twist. This is particularly true of Homographs which are words for the same spelling but different pronunciation. However, the difference in pronunciation we may have observed while speaking these words can aid us to distinguish their meanings almost immediately.

  • Thus: “Advocate | ádvə kàyt” pronounced with a long “a” sound, is a verb and means “to speak or write in support of a course”.
  • While “Advocate | ádvəkət”, a noun, is pronounced with a short "a" sound and refers to a person who supports or pleads the cause of another.

Relationships Between Homograph, Homonym & Homophone

Homographs and Homophones are subset (type) of Homonym. Opens in new window Homonyms are group of words that share the same pronunciation or sound with one another, but all mean different things. However, confusing though; Homonym is also simultaneously referred to as;

Simply put, homonymsOpens in new window, homographs and homophonesOpens in new window may share the same sound or pronunciation and sometimes share the same spelling, but invariably differ in meanings.

The suffix (ending) –graph is synonymous to drawn or written (as to spelling); invariably homographs share the same spellings, while the ending –phone is synonymous to sound or voice (as to pronunciation), so homophones invariably share the same pronunciations.

Some Examples of Homograph

1.   Attribute

Attribute (\ə-ˈtri-ˌbyüt)A noun: a characteristic of someone, thing, or an idea.
Attribute (\ə-ˈtri-byət\)A verb: to regard an attribute or characteristic to someone or something.

2.   Compound

Compound (\ˈkäm-ˌpau̇nd\)A noun, an enclosed area with buildings within it.
Compound (\kəm-ˈpau̇nd\)A verb, to make a situation worse.

3.   Bass

Bass (\ˈbās\)An adjective: having or indicating a low sound or ranget.
Bass (\ˈbas\)A noun: edible marine or freshwater bony fish.

4.   Content

Content (\kən-ˈtent\)An adjective: to be pleased, or satisfied.
Content (\ˈkän-ˌtent\)A noun: something contained inside something.

5.   Frequent

Frequent (\ˈfrē-kwənt\)A verb: to visit a place with regularity.
Frequent (\ˈfrē-kwənt\)An adjective: something occurring often.

6.   Refuse

Refuse (\ri-ˈfyüz\)A verb: to reject or decline to accept.
Refuse (\ˈre-ˌfyüz\)A noun: a trash or garbage

7.   Buffet

Buffet (\ˈbə-fət\)A noun: to hit something especially with force/a self-serve food bar
Buffet (\(ˌ)bə-ˈfā\)Also a noun: a self-serve food bar.

8.   Produce

Produce (\prə-ˈdüs\)A verb: to make something.
Produce (\ˈprä-(ˌ)düs\)A noun: fresh fruits and vegetables.