Homograph VS Homophone

What Are Homographs?

Homographs are words that contain same spelling as another word but have different meaning. These words sometimes have different pronunciation. The term “homograph” is derived from the Greek words “homo”, which means “same” and “graph” means “writing.”

Examples of Homographs

  1. Bow (to bend) : Bow (weapon for shooting arrows)
  2. Lead (to guide) : Lead (a metal)
  3. Wind (to turn) : Wind (moving air)

What Are Homophones?

Homophones are words that sound the same but contain different spelling and meaning. The term “homophone” comes from the Greek words “homo” which means “same” and “phone” means “sound.”

Examples of Homophones

  1. Their (possessive) : There (location) : They’re (they are)
  2. To (preposition) : Too (also) : Two (number)
  3. Brake (to stop) : Break (to separate)

Homographs vs Homophones

The main difference between homographs and homophones is that, homographs share the same spelling but have different pronunciations and meanings. The homophones share the same pronunciation but have different spellings and meanings.

Examples of Homographs in Literature


“Wind on the Island” by Seamus Heaney

In Heaney’s poem, he describes the powerful gusts of wind sweeping the Irish landscape and people’s homes. He writes at one point:

“Wind that rose and whirled until the roof and walls, Did groan and crack…”

The homograph “wind” conveys the dual meanings of:

  • Wind: strong gusts of air in motion
  • Wind: to coil, wrap, and bind

This captures the vivid image of the winds almost twisting and tightening around the houses. The homograph establishes the wind as a threatening, oppressive force.


“The Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

The poem explores how fire and ice reflect two destructive, yet alluring forces in nature and human relations. In the closing lines, Frost writes:

“But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”

The homograph “match” takes on the dual meanings of:

  • Match: an equal or rival capable of “matching” the intensity of fire
  • Match: material used to ignite fire

This paints ice as not just fire’s equal in devastation but also implies ice paradoxically “matches” and fuels the fire, capturing the cycle between opposites.


“If We Must Die” by Claude McKay

This poem celebrates the courage to resist oppression even in the face of death. McKay urges:

“Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!”

The homographic “yard” signifies:

  • Yard: an area of land around a building
  • Yard: a long beam used to fasten or extend the sails of a ship

This empowers the resisting fighters to stand unified against injustice despite being bound and cornered with nowhere to retreat.

Examples of Homophones from Literature


“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

In Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy, Hamlet says,

“Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.”

Here, “sea” and “see” are homophones that sound identical but have different meanings:

  1. Sea (ocean)
  2. See (to perceive with eyes)

This homophone creatively conveys how Hamlet feels overwhelmed by the troubles he has to face as well as referencing the act of making an important life decision.


“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Early in the novel when Jane is enduring torment by her cruel Aunt Reed, Bronte writes about the “seams” of Jane’s dress:

“I was spared the trouble of answering, for Bessie seemed in too great a hurry to listen to explanations; she hauled me to the washstand, inflicted a merciless, but happily brief scrub on my face and hands with soap, water, and a coarse towel.”

Here “seam” and “seemed” are cleverly used:

  1. Seam (the stitch lines of a dress)
  2. Seemed (appeared to be)

This pair of homophones subtly conveys the inner turmoil and pain beneath Jane’s stoic outward appearance.


“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton

When Ponyboy and Johnny engage in a fight with the Socs, Hinton writes about the opponents’ fighting moves:

“I made a feint at him, which he pulled away from, then I swung a right in a circle and caught him hard on the ear.”

The homophonic words again take on distinct meanings:

  1. Feint (a fake move to deceive)
  2. Faint (lose consciousness)

The homophone shows Ponyboy skillfully executing strategic offense and defense maneuvers during the brawl.

Homophones and homographs add richness to language. They show that words can have more than one meaning. This makes language interesting.

Importance of Homophones

Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. Some examples of the homophones are as under:

  • Flour (powder used in baking)
  • Flower (part of plant)
  • Piece (a part of something)
  • Peace (freedom from disturbance)

Homophones are important because they show how words can sound the same but mean very different things. This allows clever writers to use this in creative ways like:

  • Making puns and jokes
  • Adding double meanings
  • Expressing complex ideas

This makes writing more colorful, versatile, and impactful. Homophones also make the readers appreciate the many possible meanings in language. It keeps the reader interested to solve or uncover the second meaning.

Importance of Homographs

Homographs are words spelled identically but with different meanings. Some examples are:

  • Bow (front of a ship)
  • Bow (weapon to shoot arrows)
  • Lead (to go in front)
  • Lead (heavy metal)

Homographs show that language can be more complex in positive ways. Same spellings can signify different concepts. This allows writers to play with language like:

  • Adding symbolism
  • Making the reader interpret a dual meaning
  • Implying hidden layers of significance
Homograph VS Homophone
Homograph VS Homophone


To conclude, homographs are words with identical spellings but different meanings, while homophones have the same pronunciations but vary in meaning and spelling. Great writers utilize these linguistic twin sets to add double layers of symbolism and greater depth to their works. The multiple meanings create irony, reinforce themes, reveal deeper truths, and more as exemplified from the homographic “wind” and homophonic “sea” in the literary excerpts above.

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