What is a Homograph

What is a Homograph

The term homograph is made up of the two Greek words homo and graph. Greek homos mean the same whereas graph refers to writing. As this name suggests, homograph refers to words that share the same written form. In other words, homographs are words that have the same spellings but different meanings, origins and/or pronunciations. Homographs should not be confused with homonyms, homophones, and heteronyms.

Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation or spelling, but different meanings.

Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling

Heteronyms are words that have the same spellings, but different pronunciation and meaning.

You might have noticed that homographs are closely related to homonyms, homophones and heteronyms and some of these categories overlap each other. You can get a better understanding of the relation between these categories by observing the chart below.What is a Homograph

Examples of Homographs

In this section, we’ll discuss examples of homographs under two subcategories: homographs that share similar pronunciations and homographs that don’t share similar pronunciation.

Homographs that share similar pronunciation

Bear (to tolerate, animal)

He screamed, unable to bear the pain.

We saw a bear at the zoo.

Fast (quick, abstain from food)

He can run fast.

They continued the fast.

Hide (conceal, animal skin)

She was able to conceal her secret.

She made a coat out of the animal hide.

Pick (a kind of tool, choose)

She always carried a hair pick in her purse.

I want to pick the red dress, but it’s too expensive.

Homographs that don’t share similar pronunciation

Read (present tense of read, past tense of read)

He likes to read novels.

He had already read more than 200 pages.

Wound (injury, past tense of wind)

There was a big wound on his forehead.

He wound a towel around his head.

Lead (metal, the act of leading)

Lead is lighter than Gold.

The guide will lead the tourists.

Minute (time, extremely small)

Give me a minute.

Minute particles can be observed under the microscope.

Wind ()

We can hear the sound of the wind from here.

He forgot to wind the clock.

Look at the following poem. The end of each line contains a homograph. See if you can decipher the meaning of this poem by understanding the different meanings of homographs.

When Words Don’t Fit – A Multiple Meaning Words Poem

I have such a fit

When these words don’t fit!

Like when all through the spring

All the deer jump and spring,

And the lions feel they might

Want to show their strength and might,

When the monkeys swing

From a vine like a swing,

And the roar of the bear

Is too loud for me to bear,

And I can’t try to pet

One, since it’s not a pet!

I’m not trying to be mean,

But what do these words mean?


“A Multiple Meaning Words Poem: Lesson Plan to Teach Homographs.” Brighthub. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016 <http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/58500.aspx>.

Image Courtesy:

“Venn diagram showing the relationships between homographs and related linguistic concepts” By Will Heltsley – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikipedia.org

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