Dictionary.com Word FAQs

What are heteronyms?

A heteronym is a word having the same spelling as another, but a different sound and meaning, as opposed to a homonym and a synonym. So, there is "bow" pronounced boh (as on a gift or which plays a stringed instrument, or the weapon that works with an arrow), and "bow" pronounced bou (the bend you may take at the end of a performance, the front end of a ship). In many cases, one of the heteronyms is a noun and the other is a verb. The difference in pronunciation is often a matter of stress or emphasis. Then there is another type where one of the heteronyms is an adjective. A further subcategory of this type of heteronym occurs when two different words have plurals that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently. Heteronyms are also homographs, words that are spelled alike but have different meanings or derivations or pronunciations. "Bass" and "row" are other good examples of this. Heteronyms are also heterophones, words that are spelled alike but have different pronunciations. A homographic heterophone has the same look but different sound (live = liv / laiv, use = yuus / yuuz). Heterographic heterophones have different spellings, different sounds, and different meanings, e.g., pear / bear.

Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
About Term Privacy Careers Apps Feedback