ho·​mo·​phone | \ ˈhä-mə-ˌfōn How to pronounce homophone (audio) , ˈhō- \

Definition of homophone

1 grammar : one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (such as the words to, too, and two)
2 : a character or group of characters pronounced the same as another character or group

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Other Words from homophone

homophonous \ hō-​ˈmä-​fə-​nəs How to pronounce homophonous (audio) \ adjective

What are homonyms, homophones, and homographs?

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.

Examples of homophone in a Sentence

“To,” “too,” and “two” are homophones.
Recent Examples on the Web And speech is so full of homophones that comprehension always depends on context. Wade Roush, Scientific American, "When Will Speech-Recognition Software Finally Be Good Enough?," 1 May 2020 Because Mandarin has so many homophones, typing became an inefficient exercise in word selection. Mara Hvistendahl, Wired, "How a Chinese AI Giant Made Chatting—and Surveillance—Easy," 18 May 2020 Due to the prevalence of space-saving techniques in tweets, and the commonality of casual language, nearly all grammar rules were ignored and only three rules were kept as follows: spelling, homophone swap and incorrect multi-word phrase. Marina Di Marzo, CNN, "How often does Trump misspell words on Twitter? These researchers have an answer," 3 Nov. 2019 What3words removed any hyphenated words, curse words, and homophones. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "These Guys Mapped Out Every 3-Meter Square on Earth with a Unique Three-Word Phrase," 4 Sep. 2019 The term plays on the multiple homophones for the word zung, which can mean China, an ending, or clock. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Cantonese is Hong Kong protesters’ power tool of satire and identity," 20 June 2019 Plus, there is the idea that race horses are sometimes sold for meat and this homophone is a little too sensitive a topic to be amusing. John Cherwa, latimes.com, "Racing! Magnum Moon wins Rebel Stakes as Solomini finishes second," 18 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'homophone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of homophone

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for homophone

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for homophone

Time Traveler

The first known use of homophone was in 1843

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Statistics for homophone

Last Updated

7 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Homophone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homophone. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for homophone


How to pronounce homophone (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of homophone

: a word that is pronounced like another word but is different in meaning, origin, or spelling


ho·​mo·​phone | \ ˈhä-mə-ˌfōn How to pronounce homophone (audio) , ˈhō-mə- \

Kids Definition of homophone

: one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or origin or spelling The words “to,” “too,” and “two” are homophones.

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More from Merriam-Webster on homophone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with homophone

Spanish Central: Translation of homophone

Nglish: Translation of homophone for Spanish Speakers

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