Definition of homonym
1a grammar : homophone <the homonyms there and their>b grammar : homograph <The words lead, as in the metal, and lead, as in the verb, are homonyms.>c grammar : one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning (as the noun quail and the verb quail)
2 : namesake
3 biology : a taxonomic designation rejected as invalid because the identical term has been used to designate another group of the same rank — compare synonym
homonymicplay \ˌhä-mə-ˈni-mik, ˌhō-\ adjective
Examples of homonym in a sentence
The noun “bear” and the verb “bear” are homonyms.
Did You Know?
Homonym can be troublesome because it may refer to three distinct classes of words. Homonyms may be words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and meanings, such as to, too, and two. Or they may be words with both identical pronunciations and identical spellings but different meanings, such as quail (the bird) and quail (to cringe). Finally, they may be words that are spelled alike but are different in pronunciation and meaning, such as the bow of a ship and bow that shoots arrows. The first and second types are sometimes called homophones, and the second and third types are sometimes called homographs--which makes naming the second type a bit confusing. Some language scholars prefer to limit homonym to the third type.
Origin and Etymology of homonym
Latin homonymum, from Greek homōnymon, from neuter of homōnymos
First Known Use: 1697
HOMONYM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of homonym for English Language Learners
: a word that is spelled and pronounced like another word but is different in meaning
HOMONYM Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up homonym? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).