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What is the difference between a homograph, homonym, and homophone?

Homographs are words that are spelled alike, but have different meanings and usually different pronunciations, e.g., "stalk" as a plant stem and as the verb meaning to pursue stealthily. Homographs also come from entirely different sources. Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but which are different in spelling and meaning, e.g., "to", "two", and "too". Not all words that are spelled identically are pronounced identically, so they may be homographs without being homophones, e.g., "lead" as a metal and as the verb 'to go in front'. Homonyms are words spelled or pronounced alike but which have different meanings. Since homonym can be used to (ambiguously) describe either a homograph or homophone, it is best avoided.

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