Definition of homonym in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈhäməˌnim//ˈhōməˌnim/


  • 1Each of two or more words having the same spelling but different meanings and origins (e.g., pole and pole); a homograph.

    • ‘Rhett Miller is king of the homonym and double meaning.’
    • ‘So much humor depends upon homonyms and creative mishearing.’
    • ‘Read aloud again, looking for word problems: missing words, wrong homonyms (their when you mean there), misspellings, grammatical errors, and confusing words.’
    • ‘Still, the basic idea is sound: given that most of our misspellings are now corrected for us by computers, the only thing standing between us and perfect spelling is homonyms.’
    • ‘Obviously, ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’ are homonyms.’
    • ‘He fractured grammar to create double or triple meanings; he developed enigmas to give his readers the satisfaction of interpreting them; he used a vocabulary of homonyms and antonyms to create multiple possible meanings…’
    • ‘Much of the chatter derives from the abundance of homonyms in Chinese, where a single sound can carry many meanings.’
    • ‘There is one obligatory element of the New Year's feast all over China, and that is a whole fish, because the Chinese phrase ‘have fish’ (you yu) is a homonym of ‘have surplus’, so eating it is supposed to augur well for the new year.’
    • ‘Though as Dave Heasman points out far too often, I still mix up homonyms.’
    • ‘Each court reporter might use different conventions to represent homonyms or other ambiguous words.’
    • ‘The pun lost status in English, despite a wealth of homonyms.’
    • ‘What exactly are the differences between synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms?’
    • ‘When my first-grader Clare typed in ‘rows’ for ‘rose,’ the device did not recognize the homonym.’
    1. 1.1 Each of two words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling (e.g., to, too, and two); a homophone.
      , → two
      , and → to
      • ‘Actually, what's also more disturbing than misspellings is people mixing up their homonyms.’
      • ‘I've never been good with homophones or homonyms.’
      • ‘Personally, I don't mind the more obscure homonyms, but when someone mixes up ‘right’ and ‘write,’ or ‘knight’ and ‘night,’ it makes me really mad.’
      • ‘Homonyms can present an especially difficult problem because they sound alike, but the different spellings mean different things.’
    2. 1.2Biology A Latin name that is identical to that of a different organism, the newer of the two names being invalid.
      • ‘Official codes of nomenclature continue to enforce this rule - one name, one species - although rooting out synonyms and homonyms is a constant struggle.’
      • ‘In 1895 C.S. Sargent assigned it the name R. michauxii to correct Michaux's use of a homonym and to honor its discoverer.’
      • ‘This is clearly an error as Miller and Gurley's younger name could not have priority over Meek and Worthen's older name, unless it was a replacement name for a homonym.’


Late 17th century: via Latin from Greek homōnumon, neuter of homōnumos having the same name from homos same + onuma name.