Dictionary.com Word FAQs
What is it called when two words have the same spelling but different meanings?
Words that have the same spelling but different meanings (such as "bear") are called homographs. Homographs usually have different pronunciations ("wind") and origins, too. The word homograph derives from homo- 'same' and -graph 'written form'. In dictionaries, words with identical spellings but different etymologies or meanings are entered separately, and usually the headwords have superscript (raised) numbers. Often the order of the homographs is historical: the one first used in English is entered first. But dictionaries want to keep related words close to each other, so if a homograph is derived from an earlier homograph by functional shift, many dictionaries would place it immediately after its parent. In such a case, a homograph might appear ahead of another that is older in usage.