In linguistics, a homonym is one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. This usually happens as a result of the two words having different origins. The state of being a homonym is called homonymy.

A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of "rise"), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two and too.

All homonyms are homophones because they sound the same. However, not all homophones are homonyms. Homophones with different spellings are not homonyms.

The relationship between homophones, homonyms and other related linguistic concepts.


Comparison chart

Homonym versus Homophone comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartHomonymHomophone
Examples Can as in "Can I help you?" and can as in "Here's a can of beans."; hide (as in hide-and-seek, or the second meaning — animal skin) Flower and Flour; fourth and forth
Introduction (from Wikipedia) In linguistics, a homonym is one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings, usually as a result of the two words having different origins. A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of "rise"), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two and too.
Spelling Homonyms have the same spelling. Homophones may have the same or different spelling.
Meaning Different Different
Pronunciation Same Same

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