Homonyms and homophones are etymological coincidences with no real rhyme or reason as to how they came about. Technically, homonyms are words that are spelled the same and pronounced the same, yet have different meanings, such as left (a direction) and left (the past tense of leave). Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings (such as to, too, and two). Finally, heteronyms have the same spelling but different pronunciation (such as close [to shut] and close [nearby].) All other words are characterized by a different pronunciation and different spelling.
Posts Tagged ‘heteronyms’
Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same but have subtle differences in pronunciation when used in different contexts or as different parts of speech. For example, it takes only a minute to explain the minute pronunciation differences in heteronyms. You will naturally pronounce the first instance min-it and the second instance my-noot. Imagine someone learning English as a second language trying to parse all these subtle inflections.