hom·​on·​y·​mous hō-ˈmä-nə-məs How to pronounce homonymous (audio)
: having the same designation
: of, relating to, or being homonyms
homonymously adverb

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The "ambiguous" sense of homonymous refers mainly to words that have two or more meanings. Logicians and scientists who wanted to refer to (or complain about) such equivocal words chose a name for them based on Latin and Greek, from Greek hom- ("same") and onyma ("name"). In time, English speakers came up with another sense of homonymous referring to two things having the same name (Hawaii, the state, and Hawaii, the island, for example). Next came the use of homonymous to refer to homonyms, such as see and sea. There's also a zoological sense. Sheep and goats whose right horn spirals to the right and left horn spirals to the left are said to be homonymous.

Examples of homonymous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The surprising appearance of the homonymous Dagestan component in India suggests a widespread presence of a common ancestry element. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2010 Breakfast and dinner are served in Biagio Pignatta, once the house of Ferdinando’s homonymous butler and just a few steps from the hotel. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 28 May 2022 The European Commission also defended the application saying that similar-sounding or homonymous names were not an adequate reason for rejecting a request. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 16 Sep. 2021 Etna is one of three active volcanoes in Italy, along with Stromboli on the homonymous island and Vesuvius near the southern city of Naples. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Bardonecchia, near Turin, is a mountainous town, for example, while Pantelleria lies on the homonymous island off the coast of Sicily. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 19 Mar. 2021 The country's most populous state, Sao Paulo, reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for the second day running on Wednesday, even as its homonymous metropolis allowed shops to resume business and prepared to reopen its malls. Matthew Bodner, NBC News, 11 June 2020 This means the news of Iggy collaborating with homonymous problematic cohort Azealia Banks puts a limp punctuation mark on this stage of Iggy’s second record. Dale Eisinger, Billboard, 9 July 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'homonymous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin homonymus having the same name, from Greek homōnymos, from hom- + onyma, onoma name — more at name

First Known Use

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of homonymous was in 1621


Dictionary Entries Near homonymous

Cite this Entry

“Homonymous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homonymous. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


hom·​on·​y·​mous hō-ˈmän-ə-məs How to pronounce homonymous (audio)
: affecting the same part of the visual field of each eye
right homonymous hemianopia
: relating to or being diplopia in which the image that is seen by the right eye is to the right of the image that is seen by the left eye
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