English (especially British English) is not spelt phonetically. Two words
can share none, any or all of Spelling, Pronunciation and Meaning. All
languages have synonyms (words with unrelated spelling and pronunciation
but the same meaning) and words with multiple meanings. However English
has an exceptional disparity between spelling and pronunciation.
The possible combinations or some but all characteristics being
the same are as follows:-
|Same||Different||Same||Alternative pronuncation||Schedule (British/American pronuncation)|
This page is about homophones. Words with different meanings and spellings, but the same (UK) pronunciation.
With the generous help of various contributors, I have now collected
This is 396 pairs, 40 triples and 5 quadruples.
That is 546 pairs of homophone words.
These are word pairs that have been suggested but rejection, for one of the following reasons:-
- Not precisely the same pronunciation.
I only reject on this grounds, if my dictionary gives different pronunciation (or is unclear) and
I think there is a difference, or am not sure how one of the words in pronounced.
- accept, except
- acetic, ascetic
- advice, advise
- affect, effect
- axe, acts
- axle, axil
- deal, dele
- caret, carrot
- close, clothes
- cask, casque
- deuce, juice
- facts, fax
- formerly, formally
- halve, have
- hostel, hostile
- ion, iron
- jota, jotter
- liar, layer
- loch, lock
- mana, manna
- ordinance, ordnance
- paw/pore/pour, poor
- pecan, pekan
- picture, pitcher
- plaintiff, plaintive
- prince, prints
- presence, presents
- tense, tents
- wan, won
- The two spellings have a meaning in common. Even if each spelling has distinct meanings,
any common mean classifies them as alternative spellings rather than homophones.
(American, or other non-British, spellings are ignored for this purpose.)
- ambiance, ambience
- assay, essay
- aught, ought
- cot, cote
- depositary, depository
- forbear, forebear
- forego, forgo
- gage, gauge
- gel, jell
- genet, jennet
- gibe, gybe
- gray, grey
- grill, grille
- groin, groyne
- gunnel, gunwale
- hippie, hippy
- main, maine
- prise, prize
- ray, re
- ton, tonne
- It would be double counting.
If two forms of two words are different homophones, then I only count a single example.
I list complement/compliment and hence don't list complementary/complimentary.
I normally list the simplest form (singular rather than plural; present tense etc.) unless other form is a longer list.
e.g. I list holey/holy/wholly rather than hole/whole.
- Proper nouns and associated adjectives are not allowed, notably a lot of nations, nationalities,
and place names are pronounced the same as common nouns.
And many, many more.
- Capitol, capital
- Crewe, crew
- Czech, check/cheque
- Chile, chilly/chilli
- Dane, deign
- Greece, grease
- Hungary, hungry
- Lapp, lap
- Nice, niece
- Pole, poll
- Rome, roam
- Sikh, seek
- Thai, tie
- Towcester, toaster
- Wales, whales
Alleged homophones that aren't in my dictionary.
As such I am either uncertain of pronunciation, spelling or even existence of the word,
so cannot include in the confirmed list.
|wether||weather, whether||I am told this is a type of sheep.|
|basinet||bassinet||?A musical instrument?|
|hele||heal,heal||?Song, from the German?|
|how'll||howl||Not really establisted enough to count|
|leider||leader||?Song, from the German?|
|lune||loon||The moon (if so fails as a proper noun)|
I would very much like to hear of any other example that I have missed.
If you can think of one, please e-mail me.
Many thanks to those who already have done so.