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A heteronym (also known as a heterophone) is a word that has a different pronunciation and meaning from another word but the same spelling. These are homographs that are not homophones. Thus, row (propel with oars) and row (argument) are heteronyms, but mean (intend) and mean (average) are not (since they are pronounced the same). Heteronym pronunciation may vary in vowel realisation, in stress pattern (see also Initial-stress-derived noun), or in other ways.
A heteronym is a homograph that is not a homophone, a word that has a different pronunciation and meaning from another word with the same spelling. Heteronym pronunciation may vary in vowel realisation, in stress pattern, or in other ways.
"Heterophone" literally just means "different sound", and this term is sometimes applied to words that are just pronounced differently, irrespective of their spelling. Such a definition would include virtually every pair of words in the language, so "heterophone" in this sense is normally restricted to instances where there is some particular reason to highlight the different sound. For example, puns normally involve homophones, but in the case of heterophonic (or imperfect) puns, the two words sound different, and yet similar enough for one to suggest the other (for example, mouth and mouse).
Most heteronyms are doubles. Triple heteronyms are extremely rare; two examples, sin and mobile, are listed below.
Proper nouns can sometimes be heteronyms. For example, the final syllable of Oregon is pronounced like the word in by residents of that state in the United States, while in the name of the village of Oregon in Wisconsin, the final syllable is pronounced like the word on. Other examples include local pronunciations of Cairo, Georgia; Versailles, Kentucky; and Milan, Tennessee—compared to the more well-known Cairo, Versailles, and Milan—or the difference between the pronunciation of Louisville, Kentucky (//) and the town of Louisville, New York (//).
Heteronyms can also occur in non-alphabetic languages. For example, the Chinese character 行 can be pronounced háng, meaning "profession", or xíng, meaning "OK".
Examples sentences using heteronyms
- The weather was beginning to affect his affect.
- A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
- They were too close to the door to close it.
- Don't desert me here in the desert!
- Do you know what a buck does to does?
- When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
- How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
- The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
- He could lead if he would get the lead out.
- After a number of injections my jaw got number.
- I did not object to the object.
- We must polish the Polish furniture.
- He thought it was time to present the present.
- The farm was used to produce produce.
- The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
- There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
- I seconded the motion that the official be seconded to another department.
- A seamstress and a sewer fell down into the sewer.
- To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
- I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
- Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
- The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
- The bandage was wound around the wound.
- I was reading a book in Reading, Berkshire.
- I met an august man last August.
- Before I mow the lawn let me place this grain in the mow.
Heteronymns with definitions
For a longer list, see wikt:Category:English heteronyms.
|abstract||//||a.||existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence|
|//||v.||consider (something) theoretically or separately from something else|
|//||v.||to use improperly|
|address||AmE and BrE //||v.||to speak to (address) the crowd|
|AmE // BrE //||n.||a postal address|
|advocate||//||v.||to argue for someone else|
|//||n.||a person who speaks in support of something|
|affect||//||v.||to have an effect on|
|//||n.||mood, emotional state|
|//, //||n.||altruistic, beneficial love|
|allied||//||a.||The vice is of a great kindred: it is well allied.|
|//||a.||The Treaty of Vienna had bound the Allied Powers to make war together upon Napoleon.|
|//||v.||to take turns|
|analyses||//||n.||plural of analysis|
|//||v.||third person singular present of analyse|
|//||v.||to set apart for|
|//||v.||to associate ownership|
|articulate||//||v.||The tourists are the ones who always try to articulate every syllable when they speak the language.|
|//||a.||In one decade, the image of youth went from radicals uttering rage-filled rhetoric to the much less articulate valley girl or surfer wannabe.|
|axes||//||n.||pl. of axis|
|//||n.||pl. of axe|
|ay/aye||// .||adv.||He voted aye on the legislation he had sponsored|
|//||adv.||They vowed their undying love for aye.[clarification needed]|
|bases||//||n.||plural of base|
|//||n.||plural of basis|
|bass||//||n.||low in pitch|
|blessed||//||adj.||having divine aid|
|//||v.||past tense of bless|
|bow||//||n.||a stringed weapon, or the initiator of sound in some stringed musical instruments.|
|n.||an object that you clip or tie on to your hair to keep it from falling into your face|
|//||v.||to bend in respect|
|n.||the front of a boat or ship|
|buffet||// ~ //||n.||sideboard meal|
|coincidence||//||n.||A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection|
|//||n.||The fact of corresponding in nature or in time of occurrence|
|combine||//||n.||A farm machine that harvests and threshes|
|//||v.||To bring two or more things together, mix|
|complex||//||n.||A collection of buildings with a common purpose, such as a university or military base|
|//, //||adj.||Made up of multiple parts|
|compound||//||n.||A substance having definite proportions of elements|
|//||v.||To make a situation worse|
|concert||//||n.||We saw the band in concert.|
|//||v.||We had to concert all our energy to stay awake.|
|confines||//||n. pl.||Work within the confines of the contract.|
|//||v.||But the contract confines my creativity!|
|conflict||//||n.||The mother said to her belligerent son, "Violence is no way to resolve conflict!"|
|//||v.||The two news reports seem to conflict each other.|
|console||//||v.||provide comfort from grief|
|contract||//||n.||The contract was supposed to expire seven years after it was signed.|
|//||v.||Derek firmly stated that he would rather contract pneumonia and die than stand outside wearing that ridiculous pink and green poncho.|
|convict||//||v.||to find guilty|
|crooked||//||v.||I crooked my arm to show the sleeve.|
|//||a.||Unfortunately, that just made the sleeve look crooked.|
|defense||//||n.||The attorney gave a strong defense.|
|//||n.||The coach put out his best defense. (dialectual, used in sports contexts)|
|desert||//||n.||an arid region|
|discard||//||n.||Toss it in the discard pile.|
|//||v.||But I don't want to discard it!|
|do||//, //||v.||What do you think you are doing?|
|//||n.||To warm-up, the singer sang the scale from do.|
|does||//||n.||pl. of doe|
|//||v.||form of do|
|//||n.||one spelling of the plural of do as a noun - e.g. hair does|
|dogged||//||v.||At night proctors patrolled the street and dogged your steps if you tried to go into any haunt where the presence of vice was suspected. (Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh)|
|//||a.||Still, the dogged obstinacy of his race held him to the pace he had set, and would hold him till he dropped in his tracks. (Jack London, The Son of the Wolf)|
|//||v.||Mainly American past tense of dive|
|ellipses||//||n.||Plural of ellipse|
|//||n.||Plural of ellipsis|
|exploit||//||n.||a heroic or extraordinary deed|
|//||v.||to make use of or take advantage of|
|house||//||n.||a residential building|
|//||v.||to place in residence|
|incense||//||n.||Dad, I bought this incense at the temple.|
|//||v.||Big mistake. If you burn it here, you'll incense your mother.|
|increase (The accentuation shown here is not strictly followed.)||/ɪn-ˈkriːs/||v.||To get greater|
|//||n.||a disabled person|
|laminate||//||v.||to assemble from thin sheets glued together|
|//||n.||material formed of thin sheets glued together|
|learned||//||adj.||having much learning|
|//||v.||past tense of learn|
|//||pn.||The capital of Peru|
|live||//||v.||to be alive|
|merchandise||//||n.||goods available for sale|
|//||v.||to make (something) available for sale|
|//||n.||unit of time|
|mobile||AmE //, BrE //||n.||The baby sat in awe at the bright colors on the mobile.|
|AmE //, BrE //||a.||Although most animals are mobile, the sponge is sessile.|
|//||pn.||A city in Alabama|
|moped||//||n.||a small motorcycle|
|//||v.||past tense of mope|
|mow||//||n.||a stack of hay, or the part of a barn where hay is stored|
|//||v.||To cut something (especially grass or crops) down or knock down|
|//||adv.||in multiple ways|
|overall||//||a.||Overall, we didn't do too badly.|
|//||n.||I need new overalls.|
|periodic||//||a.||Temperature shows periodic variation.|
|//||a.||Periodic acid is an oxoacid of iodine.|
|//||adj.||of, from, or native to Poland|
|n.||the current moment (e.g. At present)|
|adj.||existing in the immediate vicinity (e.g. Santa is present.)|
|primer||AmE //, BrE //||n.||Book that covers the basic elements of a subject|
|//||n.||An undercoat of paint|
|//||v.||Third person singular of the verb "proceed"|
|//||n.||fruit and vegetables|
|progress||/prəˈɡrɛs/||v.||I hope things will progress faster.|
|/ˈprɑɡrɛs/||n.||I haven't made any progress.|
|//||v.||to cast an image|
|putting||//||v.||pr. part. of to put|
|//||v.||pr. part. of to putt|
|ragged||//||v.||She ragged on me about my ragged jeans.|
|//||a.||But my ragged jeans are my trademark, I responded.|
|//||n.||one who rebels|
|//||v.||to make a record|
|recreate||//||v.||to relax by leisure activity|
|//||v.||to give new life or create again|
|//||v.||to sign again; re-sign|
|resume||//||v.||to start again|
|//||n.||curriculum vitae (sometimes distinguished with acute accents; résumé)|
|root||// or //)||n.||The tree's root was rotted.|
|//||v.||A pig can be trained to root for mushrooms.|
|row||//||n.; v.||a line; to paddle a boat|
|second||//||adj., n., v.||ordinal of "two", 1/60 of a minute, to endorse a motion|
|//||v.||to transfer temporarily to an alternative employment|
|separate||//||a.||This should be divided into packets of ten cartridges each, which should be rolled up in flannel and hermetically sealed in separate tin canisters. (Samuel W. Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia)|
|//||v.||To stalk these wary antelopes I was obliged to separate from my party, who continued on their direct route. (Samuel W. Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia)|
|//||n.||one who sews|
|//||n.||one who shows|
|sin||//||n.||a moral error|
|//||n.||abbrev. for sine|
|//||n.||Sumerian god of the moon|
|sow||//||v.||to plant seeds|
|//||n.||a mature female in the swine species|
|//||v.||to cause to undergo|
|supposed||/( ) /||adj.||being assumed to be|
|//||v.||obliged to do|
|//||v.||past sense of suppose|
|tear||//||n.||liquid produced by crying|
|//||v. , n.||to separate|
|tier||//||n.||Our seats are in the third tier of the stadium.|
|//||n.||Will the tier be around to make these knots?|
|transfer||//||n.||a movement of something from one place to another|
|//||v.||to move something from one place to another (the verb can be accented on either syllable)|
|unionized||//||adj.||formed into a union|
|whoop||//||v.||Pa says he's gonna whoop you good if you don't learn some manners!|
|//||v.||When they scored a goal, he began to whoop and holler.|
|//||v.||past tense of wick (e.g. to wick away some liquid)|
|//||v.||to tighten a spring|
|wound||//||v.||past tense of wind|
|//||n. , v.||an injury|