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Homographs

In basic terms, homographs (Homo = same; Graph = written) are words with the same spelling but different in meaning (lop—to cut off) vs. (lop—to droop). The examples below cover those words that sound the same and are spelled the same (hale vs. hale) but have different meanings. The Heteronym section includes those words with the same spelling but differ in pronunciation. Send in your examples and I will gladly post them for others to see. Don’t forget to tell me your first name or screen name and age.  

 

Flag vs. Flag vs. Flag

Flag (cloth attached to a pole symbolizing a country as in, I pledge allegiance to the flag or The U.S. Flag consists of 50 stars and 13 stripes) vs. Flag (a flagstone or a slab of rock used for paving as in, She walked onto her flagstone patio and mesmerized everyone with her beauty) vs. Flag (to droop or to lose vigor as in, After listening to all those menacing animal noises, his enthusiasm for camping began to flag).  

 

Dock vs. Dock vs. Dock vs. Dock

Dock (a weed as in, Make sure to remove all the docks from the soil so that they do not interfere with the growth of these beautiful plants) vs. Dock (to cut as in, We are going to have to dock our dog’s unusually long tail to prevent it from getting caught in something; to garnish wages as in, I’m sorry to inform you but we must dock $5.50 from your paycheck, meaning deduct $5.50 from the paycheck) vs. Dock (a designated spot where boats load, unload, get repaired, fuel, etc. as in, The dock extended fifty feet into the water. Dock can also be used as a verb as in, Before we continue water skiing, we had better dock at the marina and fill the boat’s tank with gas) vs. Dock (an enclosure for a prisoner in criminal court as in, The defendant stood in the dock as the verdict was read).  

 

Lop vs. Lop

Lop (to cut off branches as in, We lopped the tree branches that were hanging over the pool) vs. Lop (to droop, to hang limply as in, He lopped over her shoulder out of exhaustion).  

 

Levee vs. Levee (pronounced lev-ee)

Levee (a gathering of guests, especially at formal events as in, The levee at the wedding was larger than expected) vs. Levee (an embankment against river floods as in, Three straight days of heavy rain prompted us to build a levee along the banks of the river to prevent flooding).  

 

Hail vs. Hail vs. Hail

Hail (ice storm as in, The hailstorm damaged the windshields of many cars) vs. Hail (something occurring in large numbers as in, The boxer threw a hail of punches) vs. Hail (to flag down or signal as in, To hail a taxi; to originate as in, Where does she hail from?).  

 

Hale vs. Hale

Hale (strong and vibrant as in, hale and hearty) vs. Hale (to bring as by dragging as in, The teacher haled the disorderly student into the principal’s office).  

 

Sound vs. Sound vs. Sound

Sound (that which is heard as in, Some birds make a pleasant cooing sound) vs. Sound (in good judgment as in, Jim is not known for making decisions on a whim. Instead, he uses sound judgment; financially strong as in, Because he had made sound investments, Trevor was able to retire at an early age) vs. Sound (a narrow passage of water between the mainland and an island as in, Nantucket Soundkeeper is an organization that works hard to preserve Nantucket Sound, which holds important marine habitat and provides safe harbor for many federally protected species of wildlife).

Note: Nantucket sound is mostly triangular in shape. It's 30 miles long, 25 miles wide. It's bordered by Cape Cod on the north, Martha’s Vineyard on the west, and Nantucket on the south. It is considered a national treasure.  

 

Riddle vs. Riddle

Riddle (a question designed to test your ingenuity as in, What has four legs and leaves, but doesn’t move on its own? See Our “Jokes & Brainteasers” section for other examples) vs. Riddle (to pierce with many holes as in, At the shooting range, the marksman riddled the target with bullets).

Note: The answer to the riddle in the above example is a table.  

 

Halt vs. Halt

Halt (a stop as in, To avoid the deer, the car came to a screeching halt; an interruption as in, Work came to a halt as a result of a power outage) vs. Halt (to falter in speech as in, During the intense cross-examination, the witness became nervous and his speech began to halt).  

 

Saw vs. Saw vs. Saw

Saw (the past of see as in, He saw a skein of geese flying south) vs. Saw (a tool used for cutting as in, Tommy used the saw to cut the wood into pieces) vs. Saw (a maxim as in, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”).  

 

Soil vs. Soil

Soil (the loose earth wherein plants grow as in, Plants need rich, nutritious soil to thrive) vs. Soil (to get something dirty as in, After playing in the mud, the child’s clothes were soiled; or Active children have a tendency to soil their clothes).  

 

Here are additional examples. If you do not know the meaning of a word, be sure to look it up in a dictionary and construct sentences using that word. Send them to me and I will gladly post them.  

 

Slip vs. Slip 

 

Stair vs. Stair 

 

Frail vs. Frail 

 

Fray vs. Fray

 

Firm vs. Firm 

 

Cuff vs. Cuff 

 

Wax vs. Wax

 

Truck vs. Truck 

 

Duck vs. Duck  

 

Miscellaneous  

 

The following are tough to classify because they are a mixture of both homonyms and homographs (great—large) vs. (grate—to shred) vs. (grate—a metal framework) or, in one case, homographs and heteronyms (row—people or things arranged in a straight line—pronounced roh) vs. (row—to propel a boat by using oars—pronounced roh) vs. (row—commotion—pronounced rou). I’ll let you decide. Please note that I have included these examples under homonyms as well.  

 

Great vs. Grate vs. Grate

Great (large as in, He collected a great amount of candy on Halloween; or Trevor possesses a great fund of knowledge) vs. Grate (to shred by rubbing as in, Please grate the cheese then sprinkle it over the tacos) vs. Grate (a metal framework used to hold fuel in a fireplace as in, The fireplace in this elegant house has a very ornate grate).  

 

Done vs. Dun vs. Dun

Done (finished, complete as in, You can watch one-hour of television once you have done all your chores; thoroughly cooked as in, When will the steak be done? meaning cooked and suitable for consumption) vs. Dun (grayish-brown as in, The sailor noted the approaching dun clouds and headed back to shore) vs. Dun (to ask for payment of a debt as in, After many failed attempts to reach the woman by phone, the bank official sent a dunning letter via certified mail to her residence).  

 

Pore vs. Pore vs. Pour

Pore (a tiny opening through which moisture is emitted as in, People sweat through the pores of the skin) vs. Pore (to study something very closely as in, He pored over the ancient manuscript) vs. Pour (to put liquid into cups, glasses, etc. as in, The waiter poured water into the glass; to come in large numbers as in, Letters poured into the governor’s office in support of her stance on building new parks; to proceed in large quantities as in, Immigrants poured into the country in search of a better life).  

 

Fair vs. Fair vs. Fare

Fair (a gathering for the sale of goods often with recreational activities included as in, At this year’s State Fair, I am going to play games, ride the Ferris Wheel, and eat lots of junk food) vs. Fair (light colored as in, People with fair skin have less melanin than people with darker skin; a just person as in, The principal at our school has a reputation for being tough but fair) vs. Fare (food as in, The children loved the fare at their school picnic; a fee for public transportation as in, I’ll need $1.00 for bus fare; progress, succeed as in, How did Ken fare in the tennis tournament?). 

 

Ring vs. Ring vs. Wring

Ring (outline of a circle as in, The hard water left a ring around the drain; resonate a sound as in, Didn’t you hear the phone ring?) vs. Ring (a metal band usually made of gold or other precious metal worn on the finger such as, wedding rings, engagement rings, and rings used as ornaments) vs. Wring (to squeeze out liquid as in, The towel will dry faster if you wring it out first; to squeeze firmly as in, Failing to convince the Board of Directors of the soundness of her argument, Katie wrung her hands in desperation).

See the “Mnemonics” section for a way to remember when to use Ring and Wring.   

 

Row vs. Row vs. Row

Row (pronounced roh, rō) people or things arranged in a straight line as in, During the fire drill, students were asked to remain silent and to line up in a row so they could leave the building in an orderly fashion; a line of seats in a movie theater, etc. as in, As a child, I always made it a point to sit in the front row of the movie theater. This way, no one could sit in front of me and block my view.

Row (pronounced roh, rō) to propel a canoe, boat, etc., by using oars as in, The weather conditions were ideal, so the elderly couple decided to row their boat across the lake.

Row (pronounced rou) a noisy dispute; commotion as in, the neighbors got into a row over where the fence should be placed.  

The horizontal mark above the ō in row is called a macron (pronounced mey-kron or mak-ron). This mark often indicates a long vowel sound, like Oh.