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What Are Homophones?

Homophones are words that have exactly the same sound (pronunciation) but different meanings and (usually) spelling.

For example, the following two words have the same sound, but different meanings and spelling:


In the next example, the two words have the same sound and spelling, but different meanings:

Audio bear (the animal)
Audio bear (to carry)

Usually homophones are in groups of two (our, hour), but very occasionally they can be in groups of three (to, too, two) or even four. If we take our "bear" example, we can add another word to the group"

Audiobare (naked)
Audiobear (the animal)
Audiobear (to tolerate)

Audio"Our bear cannot bear to be bare at any hour."

The word homophone is made from two combining forms:
  • homo- (from the Greek word "homos", meaning "same"
  • -phone (from the Greek word "phone", meaning "voice" or "sound"
You will see many other English words using one or other of these combining forms.

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