What the heck are homophones?
Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings, no matter how they are spelled. Bear/Bear (the animal/put up with that annoying co-worker) is a homophone but so is red/read (my stylish iPad bag/what I wish my blog was more).
Homonyms are spelled exactly the same, pronounced the same but mean different things. These can trick people who are reading aloud especially if they are not familiar with the content. Like read/read (“Please read this aloud and act like you’ve read it before!”) or rose/rose (“The Bachelorette rose up and handed that loser a rose.”)
Here are two new ones I hadn’t heard of but now love.
Heteronyms, completely legal in all 50 states, have the same spelling but are pronounced differently and mean different things. Tricky again for public speaking! A challenging heteronym is the word desert, as in “If you’re going to desert the army, don’t try to escape across the desert (and you definitely will miss dessert).” Dessert, in that last example, is not a heteronym but is a …. you guessed it! Homophone for the first version of desert.
The English language is so beautifully complex, isn’t it?
Last, and let’s have fun with this one, let’s learn some oronyms. These are groups of words that sound the same but are spelled differently. A very cool example is realize, real eyes, real lies – I just got chills thinking about how crazy that is.
Props to someone who can post their own exciting oronyms. No Googling. Use your brain writers!
Special thanks to Grammar Girl for inspiration!