ho·​mo·​graph ˈhä-mə-ˌgraf How to pronounce homograph (audio)
: one of two or more words spelled alike but different in meaning or derivation or pronunciation (such as the bow of a ship, a bow and arrow)
homographic adjective

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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.

Example Sentences

The words “bow” for a part of a ship and “bow” for a weapon that shoots arrows are homographs.
Recent Examples on the Web Should someone make a phishing website with a homograph of your domain, your business can take a major hit. Akram Atallah, Forbes, 25 Mar. 2022 There are a few common brandjacking tactics, but a recurring one is building a website that looks legitimate through the use of a domain homograph, or a domain that looks like yours at first glance but actually contains slight variations. Akram Atallah, Forbes, 25 Mar. 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

1873, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of homograph was in 1873

Dictionary Entries Near homograph

Cite this Entry

“Homograph.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homograph. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



ho·​mo·​graph ˈhäm-ə-ˌgraf How to pronounce homograph (audio)
: one of two or more words spelled the same but different in origin or meaning or pronunciation
"row" of seats and "row" (a fight) are homographs, as are "fair" (market) and "fair" (beautiful)

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