Grammar & Word Confusions: Homonym

Posted January 4, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Grammar Explanations, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

A homonym is a type of linguistic word play with its own subsets (see Table 1 below). The two primary subsets are homographs (with the heteronym a subset of the homograph) and homophones (with its subset, heterographs).

If you break homonym apart:

Homo- means same

-onym means word, name

This means a homonym is spelled the same and sounds the same. It may also comprise one or more words (one word is the most common). Some of the Word Confusions about which I post are homonyms.

Why Writers Should Understand Word Play

I thought Sensei Michael put it very well in his post, “Homonyms, Homophones and Homographs“: that “understanding these various forms of wordplay are important in composing and appreciating poetry, puns and jokes. A child with such an understanding would be on his way towards stronger literacy and mastery of the English language”. I do know that I’d prefer to have my attention caught by humor or emotion than by a word in the wrong context.

Click here for a quick look at the differences between them -nyms, -graphs, -phone, and -semys.

Grammar Explanations and Word Confusions sometimes…

…involve the same words as it does here in this post on “Homonym”. Whereas a Word Confusion is a pair (or more) of words that are confused spelling-wise with each other, a Grammar Explanation may jump in because of the confusion involved in how the words are used within the structural rules and principles of English.

Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if you have an idea or suggestion that makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone…as well as questions on issues with which you are frustrated. If you’d like to track it, bookmark this page. And consider sharing this Grammar Explanation with friends by tweeting it.

Homonym
Credit to: Buzzy Bee Riddles
Part of Speech: Semantics, Word Play, Figure of Speech
Definition: Words that sound alike and are spelled the same but have different meanings.

Homonyms may be:

  • Near synonyms with differing nuances of meaning
  • Words whose meanings are frequently misconstrued altogether
  • Trite, overworked, or stilted words
Examples:
bow front of a ship
bend from the waist
chip short for potato chip
a small piece of something removed
a small chunk of chocolate
a microchip
lie tell an untruth
assume a horizontal position on a flat surface
rose a flower
get up
set place an object(s) in a particular place
an expression of a period of time
harden into solid state
sic used in quotations to indicate an original misspelling, etc.
incite someone or something to attack
watch a timepiece usually worn on the wrist
to observe attentively
wave a hand movement that may indicate hello or goodbye
a long body of water curling into an arched form
worsted came off poorly in a fight
a type of wool
yard a unit of measure equal to three feet
round horizontal spar fastened to a mast
a piece of ground adjoining a house or building

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