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Definition of Homographs (with examples)



Homographs: Words spelled alike but different in meaning. Example: stake (territorial division) and stake (a wooden or metal post)


The following is a list of some common homographs.

Allow 1) To give permission or necessary opportunity; 2) To admit the truth of

Alternate 1) To switch back and forth or perform in turn repeatedly; 2) Taking the place of (the substitute option)

Attribute 1) Regarding something as being caused by someone or something; 2) A characteristic of someone

Band 1) a thing that binds, unites or restrains; 2) a range of frequencies or wavelengths; 3) a stripe of a different color or texture; 3) a group of people with a common interest or purpose; 4) a group of musicians that play together

Bank 1) a financial institution; 2) the edge of a river

Bear 1) animal; 2) carry, support or endure; 3) give birth to

Bird's "bill"

Bird's "bill"

Bill 1) an amount of money owed for goods or services; 2) list in a program; 3) the beak of a bird

Board - 1) a long, flat piece of wood; 2) a group of people assigned to make decisions for an organization; 3) the provision of regular meals when you stay somewhere

Bow (pronounced b-oh) 1) a knot tied with two loops and two loose ends; 2) a weapon for firing arrows; 3) a long wooden stick with horsehair used to play stringed instruments

Bow (pronounced b-ow) 1) the act of bending at the waist; 2) a thing that is curved or bent; 3) the front end of a ship

Buffet 1) to strike repeatedly or batter (by waves or wind); 2) to knock off course; 3) a cabinet with shelves and drawers; 4) a meal consisting of several food options in which guests serve themselves

Capital 1) most important city or town of a country; 2) wealth owned for the purpose of starting a company or investment

Cell 1) a small room in which a prisoner, monk or nun resides; 2) the smallest unit of an organism; 3) a device used for generating a current or electrolysis

Close 1) a short distance away or near to; 2) to shut or block something; 3) bring or come to an end

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Combine 1) to merge or unite; 2) an agricultural threshing machine

Conduct 1) a manner in which a person behaves; 2) to organize and carry out

Descent 1) to move downward; 2) the origin

Desert 1) to abandon; 2) a barren place

Dive 1) the act of plunging head first; 2) to swim underwater using breathing equipment

Due 1) expected or planned for a specific time; 2) what is owed

Excuse 1) attempt to lessen the blame; 2) release someone from a duty



Fair 1) reasonable, just, appropriate or legitimate; 2) light in complexion or hair color; 3) a festival

Fare 1) money a passenger of public transportation has to pay; 2) a range of food, 3) perform in a specific way over a period of time

Fluke 1) an unlikely chance occurrence or stroke of luck; 2) a parasitic flatworm; 3) a variety of flatfish; 4) the broad triangular end of an anchor or whale’s tail

Ginger 1) a plant which resembles bamboo or the spice made from its root; 2) a light reddish-brown (often used to refer to a hair color)

Intern 1) a student or trainee who works in order to gain experience; 2) to confine someone as a prisoner

Jam 1) squeeze or pack tightly; 2) unable to move due to a part becoming stuck; 3) improvise with other musicians; 4) a preserve made from fruit and sugar

Lather 1) a frothy white mass of bubbles from cleaning substances mixed with water; 2) a heavy sweat on an animal; 3) a state of agitation or nervous excitement;

Lead (rhymes with deed) 1) to be in charge of; 2) initiate or set in motion; 3) cause another to move forward by holding onto them; 4) to be superior to competitors or colleagues; 5) to be in a position or advantage; 6) to have a major part in a performance

Lead (rhymes with head) 1) a heavy blue-gray metal; 2) the graphite used in a pencil

Left 1) the opposite of right related to a direction or side of a human body; 2) having gone away from (past tense of “leave”); 3) bequeath after one’s death; 4) deposit or entrust to be kept by another

Lie 1) an intentional untruth; 2) to be in a resting position (past tense of “lay”)

Principal 1) first in the order of importance; 2) denoting an original sum of money invested or lent; 3) to have a major part in a performance; 4) person with the highest authority

Principle 1) fundamental source or basis of something;2) morally correct behavior

Period 1) a length of time; 2) a slang term for a woman’s menstruation; 3) a punctuation mark used at the end of sentence or abbreviation

Polish 1) to make the surface of something shiny by rubbing it; 2) the substance used to make a surface shiny; 3) improve or refine

Primer 1) an elementary textbook used to introduce a subject; 2) a substance used as a preparatory coat on something previously unpainted; 3) a small pump for pumping fuel to prime an internal combustion engine

Pump 1) a mechanical device that uses suction or pressure to move liquid, air or gas; 2) the act of moving liquid, air or gas by means of a pump; 3) to forcefully move up and down or apply and release pressure

Seal 1) a fish-eating aquatic animal with flippers; 2) to close securely; 3) a device or substance used to join two things

Stake 1) a territorial division; 2) a wooden or metal post

Straight 1) without bend or curve; 2) level; 3) honest and non-evasive; 4) continuous succession; 4) an undiluted drink; 5) serious performance (as opposed to comedic)

"Surf"  and "Wave"

"Surf" and "Wave"

Surf 1) the line of foam formed by waves breaking onto a shore or reef; 2) the act of riding the crest of a wave

Tail 1) the hind-end of an animal; 2) the lower or hanging part of a garment; 3) the final or more distance end of something; 4) to secretly follow someone; 5) the side of a coin that does not have the head of a person on it

Tense 1) a set of forms taken by a verb to denote the time of action (eg. the past tense); 2) tightening of the body caused by anxiety

Waste 1) to become progressively weaker due to illness; 2) to expend carelessly; 3) devastation or ruin

Wave 1) to move one’s hand back and forth in a greeting or signal; 2) a long body of water curled into an arch; 3) a hairstyle that curls

Way 1) a road or path for traveling; 2) a method or style of doing things; 3) a sloping structure down which a ship is launched

Wear 1) to erode by friction or use; 2) to have on one’s body as clothing or decoration

Weather 1) the state of the atmosphere at a place and time; 2) to come safely through a storm; 3) to wear away the appearance or texture

Well 1) a deep hold sunk into the ground to obtain water or oil or depression made to hold liquid; 2) an enclosed shaft inside a building providing space for stairs, an elevator or ventilation; 3) rising of liquid or emotion

Worn 1) eroded by friction or use; 2) to have one’s body as clothing or decoration

Learn More ...

I hope this has been of use to you. You can learn more by following the links below.

  • Homonyms (Words that same sound and often have the same spelling, but different meanings.)
  • Homographs (Words spelled alike but different in meaning.)
  • Homophones (Words pronounced the same but are different in spelling and meaning.)


Anna on September 27, 2016:

This is the best cite ever

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on August 20, 2011:

Excellent addition, Flora - thank you!

FloraBreenRobison on August 20, 2011:

Extensive list!

Another Band definition-a group of musicians. I only point it out because I'm a singer and this is the first definition that comes to mind as a result. :)

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on August 17, 2011:

Thank you :-)

Binaya.Ghimire on August 17, 2011:

Without sounding didactic, you have explained the terms with good examples. Now moving to Part Three - Homophones.

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