Posted by: episystechpubs | January 25, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

I got some exciting news from the Monett office yesterday after sending out the first e-mail on spelling. Fifth-grader, Miss Alex Sparkman (daughter of Rexanna Hood), won first place in the spelling bee at her school. The outdone sixth-graders will be waving goodbye as Alex makes her way to Joplin for the next competition. Congratulations!

Now, before we get into spelling and frequently confused words, we’re going to learn a little Greek today that will, hopefully, help you remember some definitions. Let’s start with the linguistic terms homonym, homophone, and homograph. (Note: Sometimes these are all lumped under the term “homonym”; the following definitions are from Merriam-Webster.)

homonym

· From Greek homós (common, same) + onoma (name)

· One of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning

o A pool of water vs. pool the game

o A dog’s bark vs. the bark covering a tree

· KC’s hint – The key here is onoma (name); the words are “named” (spelled) the same, but have different meanings.

homophone

· From Greek homós (common, same) + phōnḗ(voice, utterance)

· One of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling

o aye, eye, I

o they’re, their, there

o to, too, two

· KC’s hint – The key here is phōnḗ (voice); the words sound the same, but have different meanings.

homograph

· From Greek homós (common, same) + gráphō (write)

· One of two or more words spelled alike but different in meaning or pronunciation

o entrance (the way in) vs. entrance (to mesmerize)

o minute (unit of time) vs. minute (tiny)

o bow (a type of knot) vs. bow (to bend at the waist, as sign of respect) vs. bow (“tool” used to shoot an arrow)

· KC’s hint – The key here is gráphō (write); the words are “written” (spelled) the same, but have different meanings or different pronunciation.

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor


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