homograph[häm′ə graf′, hō′mə-]
- The definition of a homograph is a word that is spelled like another word or other words, but has a different meaning and sometimes sounds different.
An example of a homograph is evening, which is the time of day after the sun has set or making something level or flat.
Origin of homographhomo- + -graph
- A word that is spelled the same as another word, usually having a different etymology, such as "bear", the animal, and "bear", to support, to tolerate, etc.
Homographs are a kind of homonym in the loose sense of that term, i.e. a word that is either a homophone (same sound) or a homograph (same spelling). (The strict sense of homonym is a word that both sounds and is spelled the same as another word.) Specifically, homographs must have the same spelling, though they usually have different meanings and may be pronounced differently.
- The verb bear (“to carry”) and the noun bear (“large omnivorous mammal”) are homographs with the same pronunciation and different etymological origins.
- The verb alternate (“to go back and forth”) and the adjective alternate (“following by turns”) are homographs with different pronunciations but close etymological origins. Such homographs are also heteronyms.
- The verb meet (“to encounter”) and the noun meat (“food”) are not homographs since they have different spellings.